TNM Super League clubs, especially those without sponsorship, say restrictions limiting gatherings to 100 people due to Covid-19 will worsen their misery considering that gate revenue contributes significantly towards their operational budgets.
The development comes four days after the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 announced theirstrict enforcement of the precautionary measures.
Mighty Wanderers FC chairperson Symon Sikwese, whose club has just lost sponsorship from Japanese reconditioned motor-vehicle dealers Be Forward Limited, yesterday said they are not comfortable to play without spectators.
He said: “We are really at pains to embrace these restrictions because they have worsened our financial situation as gate revenue could be our main source of income after losing our sponsorship.
“This is something we have been thinking about. We will consult Football Association of Malawi [FAM] and Super League of Malawi [Sulom] to give us guidance on how we can move forward.
“There was a meeting that discussed the same last year and there were propositions that FAM and Sulom could make so that clubs could be getting something in the event that games start being played without spectators. We want to follow up on that with FAM.”
The Nomads boss said football authorities need to give clubs an option on what to do because they cannot train and go to a league match where they will get nothing at the end of the day.
“This weekend, we are ready to fulfil our fixtures because the communication from the government just came within the week when our preparations were already at an advanced stage. However, from next week, we will have to rethink whether it is practical for us to continue playing matches,” he said.
Ntopwa FC owner Isaac ‘Jomo’ Osman and Karonga United general secretary Ramzy Simwaka, whose clubs hardly have corporate or government support alongside Tigers FC, Chitipa United, Ekwendeni Hammers and Mzuzu Warriors, echoed Sikwese’s concerns, saying with a limited number of patrons in stadia, life will be extremely difficult for them.
Said Osman: “I do not know how we will survive under these restrictions because we rely on gate revenue for our operations. They have killed us.”
On his part, Simwaka said: “Without financial muscle and with Covid-19 prevailing, we will only survive by God’s grace.”
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said with the latest developments, clubs should brace for tougher times ahead.
“Our hope is that these restrictions on social gathering won’t last long. Otherwise, football clubs will struggle because we don’t have the financial support system,” he said.
“Even the Covid-19 Relief Support that we are offering [to clubs] is a one-off and Fifa [the world football governing body] made it very clear that there won’t be any additional funds. This is why we are pushing for Television broadcasting of football matches. It could have been very handy if Pay TV was rolled out by now.”
Sulom president Tiya Somba-Banda said even before the latest restrictions, they noted a drop in patronage in stadia, meaning that the gate revenues dwindled significantly, thus having an adverse impact on all the clubs’ finances.
“However, amongst any challenges, there is a silver lining out of it. The restrictions present us an opportunity to seek out other innovations to open new revenue streams for the clubs.
“People will still follow the game they love from their homes through other platforms and all we need to do is to monetize these platforms be it television, radio, social media or mobile phones. We will monetize these platforms for the benefit of the clubs,” he said.