FAM could surrender MDC Stadium ownership and its football academy project after it transpired that its sponsors, Surestream Petroleum Malawi, want to buy out the Blantyre facility.
Sources said the sponsors of the $400 000 project want complete control of the Chilomoni Township stadium.Â But Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu classified the interest as informal.
Nyamilandu, whose association will sign a three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with SureStream, said even if SureStream were to bid for the stadium, FAMâ€™s executive would decide whether to sell it.
â€œNo. Not at this moment [selling the stadium]. There have been some indications, but the process has not begun. Papers have not been submitted for them to express interest. Discussions are underway, but it is just informal,â€ Nyamilandu said in a thin veiled reference that FAM faces the temptation of SureStreamâ€™s carrot.
FAM bought the stadium at K22 million (about $73 333) from Malawi Development Corporation around 2006. It was accessible to the teams on lease though it was never maintained, leading to its complete collapse. It is not clear whether the stadium would still be accessible to the public once it goes into private hands.
Nyamilandu and SureStream Petroleum Malawi general manager Keith Robinson announced their partnership at Chiwembe Technical Centre in April. Robinson then said they did not expect benefits from the project. But Nyamilandu has since changed the tune slightly.
â€œThey have been spending over K50 million [about $166 667] and they will spend more on the project. They want to turn it into a flagship facility with a school and an academy. With that kind of money, they feel, in the long term, it would be better if they took full control,â€ he noted.
Part of the MoU was to have FAM erect an artificial turf. But on Friday, Nyamilandu told the press that the artificial turf, will, on its sponsors, Fifaâ€™s recommendation, now be put at FAMâ€™s Chiwembe Ground.
Asked if the change was not too good to be a coincident with SureStreamâ€™s interest in owning MDC Stadium, the FAM boss insisted that it was Fifa which reviewed the decision. The Nation sources indicated that Surestream also wants to hire its personnel to manage the facility. Earlier indications suggested that Jack Chamangwana and Patrick Kulemeka would, among others, take charge of the academy.
In an e-mailed response to a questionnaire, Robinson on Thursday avoided commenting on the reports that his firm wants to buy out the Chilomoni Township stadium.
â€œThe renovation and repairs to the stadium are now nearing completion. We are currently planning an open day that should happen in two weeks time. I will ensure you get an invite so you can come along, see the renovations and hear all about our future plans for both the stadium and the Surestream Youth Academy,â€ Robinson said.