BAT Ground could wear a new face as government has set aside K30 million for its upgrading.
The ground located in Chichiri, Blantyre used to host high profile Super League matches before British American Tobacco (BAT) sold it to government over 10 years ago for K30 million.
Currently, it looks more or less like an abandoned military camp. The wooden terraces are broken and grass overgrows into a bush especially during the rainy season.
Confirming the allocation in an interview, Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) executive secretary George Jana said the funds are just a starter pack.
He said, among other things, there are plans to change the pitch’s set-up:
“The goalposts are in east and west. But a standard pitch is supposed to stretch from north to south to avoid the sunlight into goalkeepers’ eyes.”
Jana further disclosed that the upgrading project will also include construction of modern dressing rooms and additional terraces.
“The K30 million is just a starting point but we believe that we will need more money to bring it to the standard we want it to be,” he said.
Over two years ago, government handed the BAT Ground to MNCS as a revenue generation avenue for the council.
Currently, it is being used by the Southern Region Football Association (SRFA) League for its matches.
Meanwhile, Jana has said that the upgrading had delayed to take off because the council did not have the title deeds to claim ownership.
“Legally, we do not own the ground because the title deeds are not in the council’s name. Now we are hoping to start the renovations soon because we are sure that we will own the facility as the process of changing ownership has already started,” he said.
But Ministry of Sports and Culture spokesperson Christopher Mbukwa argued that MNCS should not use the title deeds as an excuse for failure to rehabilitate BAT ground.
“To show their seriousness, they were supposed to start allocating resources for upgrading from the day it was declared that the facility belongs to the council. But let us hope that the project will take off.” n