Most of the elite football clubs and players are in dilemma on how they will financially survive as the TNM Super League is suspended because of coronavirus pandemic while others have come up with emergency plans.
TNM plc, sponsors of the Super League, and Super League of Malawi (Sulom) suspended, until further notice, the league kick off from last weekend after President Peter Mutharika declared a state of disaster, restricting public gatherings to less than 100 people as a precautionary measure against the virus that has caused deaths and economic challenges worldwide.
Clubs heavily rely on gate revenue for their operations, including paying their players’ salaries, while players bank on allowances such as game bonuses to compensate for their meagre salaries to make ends meet.
However, Ntopwa FC, Chitipa United Karonga United, Mighty Tigers, TN Stars and Civo United admitted during the week that the postponement of the league is a major stumbling block to their income generation considering that it came after they had already spent a lot in preparations and underwent a three-month off-season break.
“We are in a tough situation and, honestly, we do not know what to do. We have put everything in God’s hands,” said Ntopwa owner Isaac Jomo Osman.
“Of course, we are running up and down to see how we can survive but still there seem to be no light at the end of the tunnel because our discussions with Ecobank on possible partnership have also been disrupted due to this outbreak. We are now in dilemma.”
Civo general secretary Ronald Chiwaula said they are yet to establish how they will survive but “we are hopeful our sponsors [government] will come to our rescue”.
Karonga United general secretary Ramsy Simwaka said their best survival option was to organise fundraising activities but still they can hardly do that in the current situation, whereby gatherings are restricted to 100 people.
“This outbreak has affected our plans. We were expected to organise a fundraising dinner and dance at the end of this month and meet some companies in Karonga for possible partnerships, but now all that is gone and we have run out of options,” he said.
But Nyasa Big Bullets, Be Forward Wanderers and Silver Strikers yesterday said they will engage an extra gear on their commercialisation campaign.
Bullets’ chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said: “As a club, we have not ceased to carry out our businesses such as sale of merchandise, engaging supporters through our SMS campaign and sale of magazine.
“Actually, we are scaling up our fundraising drive; from next week, we will embark on the creation of more selling points for our magazine and merchandise if the situation in the wake of the coronavirus remains as it is.”
Wanderers’ team manager Victor Maunde and Silver board chairperson Victor Madhlopa said they have put in place some marketing plans aiming at cushioning their financial constraints.
“Our main focus is the scaling up of the SMS promotion, which does not require contact with the public to thrive,” Maunde said.
On their part, football players said it would be difficult to think of any plan that would help them generate income in the absence of game bonuses due to non-existence of matches.