Firing Flames coach Ronny Van Geneugden (RVG) could be easily said than done since sacking him would cost Football Association of Malawi (FAM) millions of kwacha in compensation, Nation on Sunday can reveal.
Pressure is mounting on FAM to fire RVG following Malawi’s poor performance at the Cosafa Cup where Malawi, though ranked highly, anchored Group B and exited the competition without a win for the second consecutive year under the Belgian.
But the coach, who we are reliably informed carts home $10 000 (about K7.7 million) per month, still has a year on his contract, which means FAM cannot fire him without compensation.
Worse still, RVG’s contract has several key performance indicators (KPIs) that only emphasise on introducing a unique style of play from junior to senior national team.
Though this unique style is eventually expected to reflect in the senior national team’s performance, the coach has already argued that he is not worried with the calls to fire him since his contract is ‘a long term-project’ which does not hinge on Flames’ results.
With the coach getting $10 000 per month, FAM would be obliged to pay him $120 000 (about K84 million) for the remaining months of his contract, if the association decides to send him packing.
This is besides other benefits which the Belgian is entitled to.
FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda confirmed that the association would have to pay RVG a huge sum in compensation, if it were to fire him.
“The contract has an exit clause for both parties. Of course, we can terminate his contract; but the contract provides that whoever walks away from it has to compensate the other party,” he said.
The GS said experience had taught the association lessons on how to handle coaches’ contractual issues.
FAM just lost a legal battle against former coach Ernest Mtawali over his firing. The High Court ordered the association to pay compensation to Mtawali.
“As of now, we do not have enough grounds to fire the coach [RVG] based on the contract he signed. The question is: Is it worth it to fire the coach and spend millions of taxpayers’ money in compensation? Is the coach the real problem? Because we have been through the same process now and again,” said Gunda.
But soccer analyst George Chiusiwa said FAM goofed by employing RVG without ‘assessable and verifiable targets’.
“In any employment, targets should be set and as a country which had gone through dark times in the game, we ought to have given RVG assessable and verifiable targets. FAM missed a great opportunity,” he said.
Chiusiwa, a lawyer by profession said the only way out of this trap is to negotiate with the coach so that he can be redeployed.
But this speaks volumes about the lack of transparency and accountability which crowded FAM’s engagement of the Belgian.
“Coming to think of firing the expatriate coach, I feel the FA will pay dearly. Contractual obligations will demand that we pay him if we sack him now,” he said.
“In any case, we ought to redeploy him in another technical capacity at FAM while we are buying his contract. Remember, what FAM did with the case of Kinnah Phiri and his assistants when they were shown the exit door. This arrangement may be possible if FAM explores such an opportunity in the coach’s contract,” he said.