Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has backtracked on its earlier statement that Big Bullets cannot be allowed to take part in a continental tournament.
FAM has since sent to CAF Big Bullets’ application to participate in the 19th edition of the Champions League, which will start in March next year.
This comes barely a week after FAM, through its Club Licensing Regulations (CLR) manager Casper Jangale, issued a statement to the effect that Malawian clubs cannot participate in CAF-sanctioned competitions because they are yet to be licensed.
But FAM general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda yesterday said Bullets’ application was sent to CAF on Tuesday.
“Although they are yet to prove that they meet all the requirements to take part in the tournament, we sent the documentation because we did not want to be seen as blocking them from participating in the tournament.
“Nevertheless, by December 31 CAF will determine whether their application has been accepted,” said Nyirenda.
He said the crucial aspect is whether Bullets have the financial muscle to meet the demands of taking part in such an elite competition.
“The fine that is imposed for pulling out before the draw is $10 000 [about K5.15 million] and between $25 000 [about K12.8 million] and $50 000 [about K15.7 million] for pulling out when the tournament is in progress,” said Nyirenda.
“And when a club fails to pay the fine, it is the association that suffers the consequences as it was a couple of years back when we were taken to task for Escom United’s withdrawal. So, we only hope Bullets are aware of that and that they are financially ready,” he said.
However, Bullets GS Harold Fote said there are prospective sponsors waiting in the wings to sponsor some of the team’s needs.
“We also believe that with a sound marketing strategy, proceeds from gate-collections and TV rights, we can generate funding for the campaign.
“We have also lined up a number of fund-raising activities that will commence soon after the league,” said Fote.
Although he could not be drawn to disclose the fund-raising activities, unconfirmed reports indicate that Bullets intend to host a dinner where they are earmarking Vice-President Saulos Chilima as the guest of honour.
Fote claimed that so far they have met most of the requirements such as establishing a feeder team and setting up a secretariat at Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds.
“As for audited accounts, that is already in the pipeline. We will process that soon after the league,” said Fote.
Asked in what capacity they have joined the Champions League when the title race is still on, Fote said: “We will win the league anyway, there are no two ways about it.”
On what will happen in the event that they do not win the league, Fote said: “We assume that we then should be allowed to take part in the CAF Confederations Cup.”
Bullets last took part in the continental showpiece in 2004, when they were sponsored by former president Bakili Muluzi. They reached the group stages and beat teams such as Orlando Pirates (South Africa), Zanaco (Zambia) and AS Villa (Uganda).
From the team that took part in the tournament, only three players—Fischer Kondowe, James Chilapondwa and Jimmy Zakazaka—are still with the team.