With just about a week before the 2017 TNM Super League rolls into life, the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has declared Kamuzu Stadium unfit to host matches.
According to FAM general secretary (GS) Alfred Gunda, this follows a joint assessment and inspection drive conducted with the Super League of Malawi (Sulom) recently.
“In its present state, Kamuzu Stadium cannot host matches as there are some areas that need urgent attention such as fans’ sanitary conditions, tunnel, covered area and cordoned stands.
“Over and above that, our major concern is the state of the artificial turf, it has outlived its life-span and, therefore, an injury risk to players,” he said in an interview yesterday.
The FAM GS said they will provide a copy of their findings to government through the Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development who are the owners of the facility.
Towards the end of last year, minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Henry Mussa also declared that the stadium would not host matches this season, describing it as a death trap due to its dilapidated state.
But a few days ago, the minister softened up on his stand, saying the facility can still host games until a fresh assessment is done by the Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS).
“For now, the stadium can still be used to host matches until such a time that I get a report on the outcome of the assessment.
“But this is only a temporal arrangement because should it be declared unfit then we will have no choice but to proceed with the closure until funds for the construction of a new facility are identified,” said Mussa on Monday.
Reacting to FAM’s determination, Sulom GS Williams Banda said they will touch base with the teams concerned “to map the best way forward.
“We will analyse the report and see what is the major problem, it’s tough for the teams,” he said.
Apparently Sulom included the stadium as one of the venues.
The stadium’s manager Ambirike Mwaungulu said under the circumstances, he will have to seek direction from the ministry.
“I will wait for official communication from my superiors on whether to close the stadium or wait for the results of the fresh assessment as ordered by the minister,” he said.
Blantyre-based teams, in particular Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers, had indicated the stadium as their home venue for this season.
Reacting to the latest development, Bullets GS Albert Chigoga said they are not happy with the decision.
“To begin with, the timing [by FAM] is wrong because we cannot start planning to find a suitable replacement now when the league kick off is just around the corner.
“Second, we are constrained budget wise and obviously the development will require us playing most of our matches outside Blantyre. So, we find this decision to be harsh and unfair,” he said.
Chigoga said the development is also confusing as it comes barely days after the minister exercised his benefit of the doubt to allow for a fresh assessment.
His Wanderers counterpart Mike Butao also said the decision will greatly affect them financially as they only generate substantial revenue from the stadium. n