Alarge turnout at Nyasa Bullets international matches against Zimbabwe outfit Dynamos FC at Kamuzu Stadium and Civo Stadium which grossed K22 million (about $30 000) has given Football Association of Malawi (FAM) impetus that new gate charges to be introduced this will not be a flop.
The matches, which were at K1 000 (about $1.3) open stands, acted as a litmus test for FAM who recently announced plans to hike gate charges from K500 to K1 000 at open stands during club matches and from K1 000 to K2 000 (about $2.7) during Flames engagements.
The first game, which saw Bullets beating the visitors 1-0 at Kamuzu Stadium, grossed K13.1 million (about $18 000) while the second game that ended 0-0 at Civo Stadium raked in K9 million (about $13 000).
FAM marketing manager Limbani Matola on Monday said in an interview that they would go on with the gate charges hike.
He said: “The development shows that there are patriotic football fans that understand and support any initiative that aims at improving the standard and quality of football in the country. As long as our football remains competitive and entertaining as it has become, surely we should be able to witness huge crowds at the stadium as witnessed by the recent matches. This gives us confidence of increased revenues as we roll out 2016 season on April 9.”
When asked if the international friendly was a true reflection of the situation on the ground, bearing in mind that it was played when the league is on recess and hence, may not be compared with Super League games, Matola said FAM appreciated concerns raised on the revised gate fees.
“The most important thing is to appreciate the bigger picture. All stakeholders, including football fans, expect quality football, good results, improved soccer infrastructure and, surely, they love to see or hear that football players are being well looked after. The review of match fees is simply an attempt to meet such huge expectations,” said Matola.
But one of the supporters at Kamuzu Stadium, Chifuniro Kambuzi from Ndirande Township in Blantyre, noted that he had no problems paying K1 000 to watch a match involving Bullets, Be Forward Wanderers and Silver Strikers.
“I would pay that amount at matches involving these teams without any qualms,” he said. “As for the others, K500 still remains the ideal charge in times of these economic hardships.”
But while describing the hike as the best option to improve gate revenue, Bullets vice-general secretary Kelvin Moyo suggested that government should revise the gate collection sharing procedure.
“Just imagine, Bullets got only K3.5 million from the K22 million gross of our two matches against Dynamos. Now, compare that with the K10 million we spent to host the Zimbabwean outfit in the country,” Moyo said.
“The turn-out at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday was quite impressive, considering that this was a friendly match. But our worry remains stakeholders’ scramble for our meagre resources.”
FAM got 10 percent, stadium owners, Sports Ministry got 25 percent while Sports Council received five percent.
Moyo revealed that the club now has a negative balance having spent an extra K3.5 million outside the budget.
“We wanted a waiver from the Sports Ministry for Kamuzu Stadium and the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) for Civo Stadium, but we were denied. How can clubs generate more income in such situation?” wondered Moyo.
Earlier this year, FAM general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda said the association would call for a stakeholders meeting to discuss gate management proposals which would be presented to government for consideration. n