FAM says its feasibility study has shown that restarting football without fans will not work because the potential revenue that will be realised from television rights won’t be sufficient to meet the operational costs.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu yesterday said they are, therefore, crossing their fingers that the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 will not prohibit fans from watching the games.
He said: “It all depends on how the authorities will lift the restrictions, but our study has shown that playing football without fans is a non starter because the potential revenue from TV rights won’t be enough to meet the operational costs.
“The gap is too huge for any operator to cushion the burden. We are talking in excess of K500 million deficit. This will be a tall order.
“It will only be viable if we optimise revenue from gate takings and TV/radio broadcasting. We definitely need both revenue streams to bounce back strongly.”
Nyamilandu said as a mother body, they will need to consider a cross-spectrum of priority areas of how football can restart from the safety and economic point of view of all actors and players.
“This will require continuation of the current relief programme to enable recovery and rolling out a stimulus package so that the take-off is smooth.
“We are currently in the process of finalizing consultations so that we can devise phase two of our support which will extend to support our various national teams and other affiliate leagues.
“Suffice to say that we will be stretched and the funds at our disposal won’t be enough,” he said.
Last week, Nyamilandu admitted that making a breakthrough in television broadcasting rights deals has proven hard on the local scene, saying there is need to explore viability.
However, Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, who is also Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 co-chairperson, said they cannot guarantee that spectators will be allowed to watch games.
“Of course, there is an economic impact being felt by the sports industry due to the suspension of sports activities in the wake of the pandemic. It is a livelihood to many people.
“At the same time, we have to prioritise the safety of Malawians, including those from the football sector.
“This is why we want to come up with the best preventative measures that must be strictly followed to guarantee safety of the players, referees and all those involved,” she said.
Nyasa Big Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said: “If that is the situation then FAM should lobby with government on the possibility of allowing fans access to the match venues.
“Otherwise, this is not what we agreed with the FAM Task Force on Covid-19 during recent meetings that were organised by Sulom where it was resolved that clubs would be susbsidised on the costs once football restarts.
“It was further resolved that as per restart roadmap, football would resume with or without supporters unless there are changes.
“So, much as it is the desire of all clubs to restart with spectators, the issue of subsidy should not be cast in stone.”
In its sports restart roadmap to be presented to the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Ministry of Youth and Sports is not restricting supporters from watching the games but strict adherence to preventive measures will be enforced.