Sponsor of the Southern Region Football League (SRFL) President Arthur Peter Mutharika has said he is not to blame for the delay to kick off the league which is now two months behind schedule.
Mutharika, through his personal assistant Ben Phiri, also questioned the league leadership’s commitment when it is failing to start sponsorship renewal negotiations. “If there was a commitment on sponsorship renewal on our part, why then are they not coming to us to set the ball rolling on negotiations? Why should it always be the media raising such issues?” Phiri said on Wednesday.
SRFL vice-general secretary Kingsley Simbeye, who is also the league’s fixtures secretary, said although the registration for the 2014/15 season is in process, the kick-off date has not yet been determined.
Simbeye, however, admitted that the kick-off is long overdue and has the potential to affect the flow of the league.
Asked if there was progress on sponsorship renewal negotiations with Mutharika, Simbeye referred Weekend Nation to the league’s chairperson Trouble Kalua who promised to give feedback later, but had not done so by press time.
With the current football season almost halfway through, the regional leagues in the South and North are yet to decide actual kick-off dates.
Some teams have since said the delay in starting the league is proving to be a financial burden.
Ndirande Icons and Surestream Academy technical directors McDonald Chiweta and Peter Mponda respectively said the uncertainty surrounding the kick-off led to anxiety.
“We have been preparing for the league for the past two months and the situation has become a financial burden because it overstretches our budget since the season will end late. For instance, as at now we are paying players and technical staff for their transport and it is tough for a team like ours that operates from hand-to-mouth,” said Chiweta.
Mponda said the situation has affected their planning.
In a related development, Northern Region Football League (NRFL) chairperson Alfred Gunda said they were in a dilemma because the sponsor is not coming out clearly on the sponsorship.
Gunda said in the event that Simama is not continuing to sponsor the league, there is another company that has shown interest, but out of courtesy, they would still need to get Simama’s position since there was a commitment.
However, Simama said on Tuesday that he is surprised that the Simama League has not started when he already made a commitment that he would continue sponsoring.
“I do not need to go back to the press recommitting myself on the future of the cup,” he said. Can you ask FAM or other relevant authorities on the delay,” Simama said.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda said it is a cause for worry that the leagues are already two months behind schedule.
“If it is about sponsorship, then we will step in and see how we can help them,” said Nyirenda.
So far, only the Central Region Football League (CRFL) which is sponsored by Chipiku Stores has kicked off. n—Additional reporting by Sebastian Nyirenda.