- Say they have no plans to sponsor Super League
Airtel Malawi has ruled out the possibility of taking over Super League sponsorship following the withdrawal of their competitor TNM.
Airtel were responding to Weekend Nation inquiry on whether they would consider bailing out the flagship football league.
In an e-mail response on Thursday, the mobile phone network service provider’s marketing director Emmanuel Kasambara said: “With regards to football, our focus is on the [Airtel] Top-8 Cup.
“We are currently gearing up for the cup’s action packed three months and will be communicating the kick off date soon.”
There have been growing speculations that Airtel were keenly following the events as they unfold and would get on board at an opportune time.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu also ruled out the possibility of swaying Airtel to sponsor the top-flight league, saying: “Airtel is committed to the Top-8. The contract was already signed, sealed and delivered.”
TNM officially announced its withdrawal of the K90 million Super League sponsorship on Tuesday following a ruling by the Competition and Fair Trade Commission (CFTC) that the mobile and data services provider’s contract with the Super League of Malawi (Sulom), has unfair trade practice clauses.
Part of the statement signed by TNM chief executive officer Douglas Stevenson, reads: “Following the meeting [held] on Monday , March 20th, where Sulom and FAM were to get clarity on the ruling by CFTC on the future of the contract with TNM, CFTC has broadly maintained its ruling and, therefore, TNM has made a decision to fully withdraw its sponsorship of the Super League and let other potential sponsors take part in the continued development of the sport in the country.
“TNM acknowledges and abides by the determination made by CFTC and would not want to be found to be acting in the matter that has negative effects on the development of football in Malawi.”
However, Sulom claims that TNM owes them sponsorship for the forthcoming season despite the agreement between the two parties expiring on April 17 this year.
Sulom general secretary Williams Banda said the sponsorship contract stipulates that the renewal negotiations commence at least a year before the current one expires.
“At the time of renewing the five-year contract in 2012, we had one year left just like in 2009.
“It is actually in this contract that the renewal should be done at least one year before the expiry of the current one. In this case, TNM still has one more year to sponsor, then they can pull out if they want,” Banda told our sister paper The Nation on Wednesday.
Sulom has since referred the matter to their legal adviser for guidance while the Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Henry Mussa and FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said they would meet TNM management within the week to lobby them to reconsider their decision.
At K90 million, the Super League was one of the lowest sponsored leagues in the region.
Mozambique’s Standard Bank Mocambola is sponsored to the tune of $750 000 [about K550 million], Tanzanian Vodacom Premier League is at $1 million [about K734 million].
In Zimbabwe, the top flight league is sponsored by Delta Beverages at $1.2 million [about K880.8 million] while in Zambia, the league enjoys a $1.5 million [about K1.1 billion] sponsorship.
However, Zimbabwe Premier League clubs have appealed to sponsors Delta Beverages to consider increasing their package according to The Herald newspaper of Wednesday March 22. n