The TNM Super League clubs’ demand for a review of the gate collection sharing system has taken a dramatic turn as eight teams plot to boycott the second round if the issue remains unresolved.
But the remaining seven teams have said they would decide after they meet to discuss the merits and demerits of the imminent action.
Big Bullets, Mighty Wanderers, Silver Strikers, Azam Tigers, Blantyre United, Mzuzu United, Mponela United and Evirom have agreed to hang their boots at the start of the second round in September until Super League of Malawi (Sulom), Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and Sports Council stop getting shares from the net gate collections at their games.
They said the three bodies should be satisfied with subventions they get from government, league sponsors and Fifa as such, they should leave gate collections to the starving local clubs.
“We are not savages. We understand the tricks these two bodies [FAM and Sulom] play to abuse the gate collections.
“We have endured enough suffering and we have decided to take a step further to force the immediate change of the current system,” said Bullets general secretary Higger Mkandawire.
At present, a Super League team gets 25 percent of the net gate collection and so too, ground owners. Sulom and FAM take 10 percent each. The remaining five percent goes to Sports Council. The sharing occurs after other stakeholders such as security personnel and referees are duly paid.
However, Sulom general secretary Williams Banda, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu and Sports Council executive secretary George Jana said the system will remain unchanged because it is a fixed arrangement that was created by an Act of Parliament.
The case is the same in all football playing nations in the world.
Mkandawire told Nation on Sunday that the teams will meet at the end of the first round later this month to cement their plan.
Wanderers general secretary David Kanyenda, Blantyre United administrator Lawson Nakoma and Mzuzu United vice-team manager George Sumaili concurred with Mkandawire that their survival in the league hangs by a thread because of not receiving meaningful shares from the gate collections.
They said they spend far more than the K1 million (US$3,095) subvention each club gets from the league sponsors and they need to get a bigger chunk from the gate collections to compensate their over-expenditure, especially now when most clubs have no sponsorship.
Nakoma argued that during the stakeholders meeting in Lilongwe a few months ago, Sulom and FAM agreed to change the current system but “it is disappointing that up to now there is nothing happening on the ground.
“We even asked them to show us the total sum of their annual gate collection for last year and we realised that some finances grew wings. It did not tally with total cash we expected,” argued Nakoma.
Kanyenda agreed with Silver Strikers general secretary Mike Tembo that teams must get 25 percent each from the gross collection.
“We are 120 percent in agreement with the boycott plan. We also propose to demonstrate and march to FAM offices to deliver our petition.
“If they will not listen, we will push for regime change at both FAM and Sulom because that will be the only long-term solution. Leaders must not be arrogant but must appreciate our concerns,” said Kanyenda.
But the Sulom GS said the teams’ pending boycott will not force them to change the system.
“I believe what they have presented here is just a proposal. They will understand what I mean once they sit down and think about this matter critically. The gate collection sharing issue is multidimensional because this system was created by an Act of Parliament,” said Banda.
When asked what happens with the money they collect from the football matches, Banda and Nyamilandu said they use it for developmental activities such as training referees and coaches.
On the other hand, Jana said the money the council gets goes into a general pool used for activities of some other sports disciplines that do not have capacity to generate own income from matches.
He, however, said due to their lack of creativity to take football as a business in these hard economic times, the clubs would still struggle financially even if it is decided that teams should take all the gate collections.
Jana also advised the clubs, especially those that lost corporate support, to restructure their budgets in terms of players’ allowances and other benefits, to be in tandem with their current financial status.
“The clubs would like to use this issue of gate collections as a scapegoat for their failure to be pro-active in taking football as business. Why did they not raise this issue when most of them enjoyed corporate sponsorship?” Jana wondered.
Mafco chairperson Captain Chitumbo Chirambo, Epac United boss Dini Josaya Banda and Civo United general secretary Rashid Ntelera said there should first be a round-table discussion with all stakeholders before boycotting games.