TNM Super League clubs Be Forward Wanderers, Nyasa Big Bullets Reserve and Ntopwa FC have been training at Kamuzu Stadium without paying facility fees, an act that has cost the facility significant revenue, The Nation has established.
Wanderers, who are the main culprits having trained there for a year without paying, defended the development, saying it was a result of a directive from the Ministry of Youths, Sports and Culture.
However, the ministry and the stadium has quashed the claims and insisted that the clubs will be billed for using the facility.
In an interview, Kamuzu Stadium manager Ambirike Mwaungulu confirmed that the Nomads did not pay for the whole of last season while Bullets Youths and Ntopwa stopped paying half way through the year.
“When we asked Wanderers to pay, they argued that government directed that they should not be paying for it. We have asked them for agreement documentation and they have not produced it. Therefore, we expect them to pay in arrears,” he said.
Mwaungulu said they plan to meet the clubs when the football season, which has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, starts.
“We bill the teams after a couple of training sessions. I would say that Ntopwa and Bullets were paying until in the second half of the year. We intend to meet them once the season starts so we can make payment resolutions,” he said.
According to Mwaungulu, on average, clubs pay about K1.5 million annually to hire the stadium for training.
On his part, Wanderers general secretary Victor Maunde claimed that they stopped paying the training fees after government allowed them and Bullets to be training for free.
“This other time Wanderers and Bullets were planning to lease Kamuzu Stadium. Our plans did not materialise. However, in one of the meetings with the ministry’s representatives we asked to be training at the stadium for free and we got an approval,” he said.
Maunde disclosed that towards the end of last season, the stadium management demanded that they pay the training fee but Wanderers insisted they got a clearance to use the facility for free.
“What they told us was to have the agreement formalised. In the meantime, we are trying to ask the ministry for a formal contract,” he said.
The ministry’s spokesperson Simon Mbvundula said there was no official agreement on the clubs exempted from paying training fees.
“We have no any document supporting that directive. We, therefore, expect all the teams using the stadium facilities to pay for the services,” he said.
Ntopwa owner Isaac Jomo Osman admitted not paying for the stadium, but could not give reasons.
“Last season we did not pay anything. I will not comment further. We are just a small club that is growing. So, I think, the big clubs should be the ones answering why they don’t pay for it,” he said. Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga asked for more time to respond on the matter. He promised to revert, but at press time he had not done so.