Super League of Malawi (Sulom) executive committee aspirants have undergone serious vetting this year as affiliates seek to elect committed leaders amid concerns that the outgoing leadership failed to comprehensively implement commercialisation.
Sulom, which runs the top-flight league, will hold an elective annual general meeting (AGM) in Salima today to usher in a new executive which will replace the Innocent Bottomani-led committee.
In an interview with Weekend Nation aimed at analysing the performance of the outgoing executive committees, some clubs stated that Sulom operations were crippled because of inactivity among committee members.
Bullets administration director Albert Chigoga said the club’s top management scrutinised the candidates before endorsing some names.
“We believe that the names we have will help improve our game,” he said.
Chigoga condemned the outgoing committee for lacking a clear agenda on the commercialisation drive, citing the failed television rights deal, among others.
“Sulom did well in some areas, but the TV rights deal which was supposed to generate more revenue for clubs, was messed up,” he said.
Sulom handed the K266 million broadcasting rights deal to the now disbanded Beta Television.
No tambala was paid to the clubs and the dispute is now in courts.
Chigoga has, meanwhile, asked the upcoming committee to review the broadcasting rights issue and find a solution so that clubs can benefit.
On his part, Mighty Tigers chairperson Sydney Chikoti said they were not impressed with the performance of the past two executive committees.
“Most of their key promises did not materialise. There has been no sanity in player transfers and the future of TV rights deal does not have any direction,” Chikoti said.
He said his club has settled for people that are geared to reform Sulom so that it meets the clubs’ expectations.
“We have established that such candidates have only been advancing the interests of their clubs. Sulom should be for all of us. So, we don’t want such people,” he said.
Chikoti also noted that some Sulom executive committee members did not contribute meaningfully to the development of the league.
Civil Sporting Club general secretary Ronald Chiwaula said they have settled for aspirants that will push for an increase in league sponsorship.
“There are some that seem committed to bringing in co-sponsors so that clubs benefit more. These are the leaders we want,” he said.
The outgoing committee only fulfilled four of the 16 promises in their manifesto, representing 25 percent.
The key areas the Sulom outgoing leadership failed to implement are: revenue generation through television broadcasting rights sales, lobbying government to reduce ground levy and render financial support to clubs playing in CAF competitions.
Others were promotion of sports medicine, setting up of Super League lottery, securing offices for Sulom, formulating a strategic plan and forming partnership with foreign leagues to share ideas.
The committee’s achievements are aiding in adoption of club licensing system, bringing sanity in player transfers and ensuring that newly promoted rural teams play home games in their districts and maximising gate revenue collection.
Sulom treasurer Tiya Somba-Banda will go unopposed as president while general secretary Williams Banda will retain the position as he also has no challenger.
While some clubs back the two as “committed and focused”, there are sceptics who believe they will not bring any significant change having been part of the Sulom team that failed to fulfil its promises.
But incoming president Somba-Banda defended his bid for the presidency arguing that they did not fail their expiring tenure.
“We laid the foundation during this tenure. We have seen Bullets fully going commercial, Silver Strikers and [Be Forward] Wanderers, among others, are also making strides. We have seen gate revenue surging for more than a 1000 fold,” he said in an interview.
Somba-Banda also pointed out that the outgoing committee has transformed the league into an attractive one: “The Super League is now attracting players from other countries, who believe playing in our league will springboard their careers.”
During the polls, outgoing legal adviser Gilbert Mitawa, committee member Aggrey Khonje and Mzuzu University (Mzuni) FC chairperson Albert Mtungambera Harawa will compete for the vice-presidency.
The post of vice-general secretary has attracted the incumbent Thoko Chazema, Aggrey Bondo Khonje and former Masters Security general secretary Zacharia Nyirenda.
Bullets technical director Malinda Chinyama and Football Players Association general secretary Ernest Mangani are contesting for the treasurer’s seat.
The other candidate, Bullets financial director Chifundo Makande withdrew on Thursday.
The battle for legal adviser will involve Masters team manager Muhammad Selemani, Chimwemwe Chithope and former Be Forward Wanderers general secretary David Kanyenda.
The four executive members’ positions are being contested by Charles Manyungwa, Henzie Banda, Michael Chamaere, Allie Mwachande, Chimwemwe Nyirenda and Titha Mandiza. n