Mighty Wanderers and Big Bullets wanted their second-round Super League derby slated for Saturday to be switched to Lilongwe from Blantyre due to issues mainly related to gate-management system.
In what can be described as loss of confidence in the way gates are managed at Kamuzu Stadium, the two teams had agreed with Sulom to shift the game to Civo Stadium in the capital because they feel they generate more gate revenue in the capital city compared to their base even after factoring in other costs such as travel and accommodation.
However, Wanderers, who made the suggestion by virtue of being the home team in the fixture, said they reversed the decision having realised that they are set to launch their SMS promotion at Kamuzu Stadium and arrangements are at an advanced stage.
“It is true, we had requested Sulom to switch the match to Lilongwe because we stood to make more revenue there other than at Kamuzu Stadium.
“However, circumstances have forced us to reconsider our decision because we’ll also be launching our SMS promotion on the same day and arrangements were already at an advanced stage,” said Butao.
Sulom president Innocent Bottoman confirmed that they were aware of the arrangement.
“They indeed approached US on the issue last week because they [both] wanted to maximise gate collections and since it was an agreement by the two teams, we had no objection and we were also in agreement with the reasons.
“However, I have learnt this morning that Wanderers have changed their mind because they have a special function whose logistics are already at an advanced stage, so they will play the game at Kamuzu Stadium,” said Bottoman yesterday.
The Sulom boss said the other reason that Wanderers gave was that the team tends to play under pressure because of the rowdy behaviour by some of their fans.
Bullets general secretary Harold Fote also confirmed having accepted to play in Lilongwe.
“We had no objection to Wanderers’ suggestion because we are losing out a lot on gate-revenue at Kamuzu Stadium,” said Fote, citing the K3 million [$7 894] gross that was realised in Sunday’s league encounter against Silver Strikers.
He accused a section of the team’s supporters of sabotage by aiding illegal entry of some spectators.
“The gross realised from Sunday’s match was a big joke because it did not reflect the huge turnout whereby every space was filled. Our supporters committee is partly to blame because they did not act on reports that those that they entrusted to man the gates were letting in people and then get something lower than the actual entry fee in return.
“With a similar crowd in Lilongwe, the gross would have been in the excess of K6 million [about $15 789] like was the case during our first-round match against Silver,” said Fote.
He vowed to develop a model system of how the gates should be manned in games involving Bullets.
“If that will cost me my position then I do not care, but we would rather put in a proper mechanism whereby the team should generate more revenue,” he said.
However, Silver GS Mike Tembo said there is a sophisticated syndicate at Kamuzu Stadium and changing the system would meet a lot of resistance.
“I don’t think what the Bullets GS is saying to the effect of changing the system can work because there is more that happens behind the scenes so much that we have come to accept the harsh reality that it is difficult to maximise gate collections at Kamuzu Stadium. Maybe if they can introduce E-ticketing, it could work,” he said.