TNM Super League clubs that will not abide by government-set minimum wage on players’ contracts will not be licensed to participate in the 2020 football season.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has set the standard among the club licensing requirements that top-flight league clubs must adhere to by the March 1 2020 deadline for submissions on administrative and personnel criteria.
FAM club licensing and compliance manager Casper Jangale yesterday said it is a pity that some top-flight league clubs pay their players way below the K35 000 minimum wage that the government set for all employees in the 2019/20 financial year.
“Just imagine some clubs are paying their players as low as K20 000 per month of which K18 000 is for rent and K2 000 for utilities. They are left with no other cash to make ends meet. How can we continue to operate in such an environment? In 2020, we won’t entertain that,” he said.
Jangale added that before clubs obtain licences for the 2020 football season, they must also make sure they have settled all outstanding arrears with their players.
“Some clubs have outstanding arrears with their players for at least five seasons yet they regard themselves as professional outfits,” he said.
When asked how FAM would ensure compliance, Jangale said: “Clubs are expected to submit players’ contracts as part of the licensing process. It will be monitored through that and through players themselves [as members of the Football Players Association].”
“We have also asked clubs to recognize players as either professional or amateur and issue contracts according to status.”
Be Forward Wanderers captain Alfred Manyozo Jnr said FAM’s initiative is the best way to go to ensure football lives up to its billing as a career.
“We are not in an era where we play football just for fun, but also as a means to eke a living. As footballers, we deserve to be considered as any employee in the world and FAM’s decision to ensure that clubs adhere to minimum wage is very much welcome,” he said.
While describing FAM’s decision to enforce the government minimum wage as a welcome idea, some clubs believe it is a harsh decision considering that some teams are unsponsored. They said the fact that Super League prizes and revenues are not satisfactory, worsens the situation.
Mighty Tigers chairperson Sydney Chikoti said before coming up with the decision, FAM ought to have first adopted a consultative approach to understand the financial challenges that local clubs are going through.
“FAM’s decision is good, but it was supposed to be effected after thorough consultations with all the Super League clubs, especially us whose resources come from individual pockets,” he said.
“Such hasty decisions are detrimental to football development. Unlike institutional and some well-nourished private clubs, unsponsored clubs go through hell to be sustained financially. For sure, we are not getting encouraged by such attitudes.”
Mzuzu Warriors general secretary Donnex Chilonga, whose team was unsponsored in the 2019 season following Mzuzu University’s withdrawal of sponsorship, concurred with Chikoti that FAM has rushed to impose the minimum wage.
“I do not know why sometimes FAM works in isolation when making very important decisions pertaining to the running of the game,” he said.
Soccer analyst George Kaudza Masina has described FAM’s decision as “a very welcome development” saying, as employers, clubs have to abide by all labour laws.
“If some teams cannot afford to pay their players a minimum wage, it shows that they are not worth participating in the elite league. It is better for them to withdraw from the Super League than to continue exploiting their employees, who happen to be the players,” he said.
“As for the Super League prizes, FAM and Sulom need to engage TNM as sponsors, otherwise this sponsorship is a raw deal as it only benefits the sponsors but make the clubs poorer than before. Nevertheless, a minimum wage is non-negotiable; it has to be adhered to at all cost.”
Other submissions under the administrative and personnel criteria are the employment and contract of head coach (licensed by FAM with minimum CAF B coaching license), employment and contract of assistant coach (minimum CAF B licence), employment of a medical doctor, full-time office staff, media officer and security officer. The clubs must also have mandatory medical insurance for players.