Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (Fisd) Limited hasterminated its sponsorship of the K60 million Fisd Challenge Cup, citing a harsh business climate and Covid-19 as the main reasons.
The tournament had the highest winner’s prize of K20 million while the runners-up purse was pegged at K7 million.
Confirming the withdrawal in an interview yesterday, the company’s chief external operations officer Jack Kujaliwa said: “The business climate coupled with the Covid-19 situation have taken a toll on us and, therefore, it was not feasible to sponsor the tournament this year.
“We were supposed to have the fifth and last edition last year, but football having been suspended due to Covid-19, it was practically impossible. We, therefore, decided not to proceed with the last edition”
In a statement released yesterday, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) said its executive committee resolved during a meeting held on Saturday in Mangochi to accept Fisd’s decision to pull out of the deal which expired on December 31 2021 “despite the company having an obligation to release sponsorship funds for the 2020/2021 season”.
Part of FAM’s statement reads: “Fisd has indicated that the decision was arrived at due to current business operating environment of the company and its directors.
“FAM fully understands the plight of the company and is saddened that its five-year relationship with Fisd Limited has come to an end in this unceremonious manner without a befitting send-off on the field of play due to the Covid-19 situation and other non-footballing reasons.”
The local football governing body further says the withdrawal of the sponsorship is a huge setback and a big loss, considering the impact the tournament had on local football since its launch in 2016.
“To date, the Fisd Challenge Cup was the only national cup that provided a platform for amateur teams at district level to play against elite Super League teams.
“FAM would like to thank Fisd Limited, a wholly Malawian-owned company for their support, passion and commitment in football development. Fisd will always be welcome should they consider coming back into the game in future,” the statement further reads.
In an interview yesterday, FAM competitions and communications director Gomezgani Zakazaka said the development is a blessing in disguise.
“Looking at the current situation whereby we have been heavily affected by Covid-19, we have a tight schedule and we need time to recover and start afresh next season,” he said.
Blue Eagles are the current holders of the cup, having beaten Kamuzu Barracks (KB) in last year’s final through post-match penalty shoot-out.
Eagles chairperson Alexander Ngwala said they are disappointed with the sponsorship withdrawal.
“As title holders, we are saddened because the tournament was highly competitive and exciting. It also had the highest winner’s prize in the land,” he said.
Mighty Wanderers were the first team to win the tournament in 2016, they also won it in 2018 while KB and Eagles won it once each in 2017 and 2019, respectively.
Uncertainty also surrounds the Airtel Top 8 tournament as it does not appear on FAM’s calendar of events because the sponsors, Airtel Malawi, were yet to make a formal commitment