Government says it has no immediate plans to construct a new stadium or renovate Kamuzu Stadium once it is closed.
The ailing facility is set to be closed at the end season following Minister of Labour, Sports, Youth and Manpower Development Henry Mussa’s recent declaration that it is a ‘death trap.’
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu also said the stadium will not host Super League games for 2017 season due to the worn-out artificial turf which has outlived its life-span.
The development will affect Blantyre-based Super League teams which use it as their home ground and helps them generate more gate revenue as compared to alternative venues due to capacity challenges.
Ministry of Labour, Sports, Youth and Manpower Development spokesperson Simon Mbvundula said on Wednesday it not clear whether government will commit to such plans and it is high time clubs stopped over-reliance on government facilities.
“In Malawi we set a bad precedence whereby government is in the business of constructing stadiums. Yes, we a have role of providing social services but, elsewhere, it is the clubs that own stadiums. Therefore, it is high time our clubs embraced that,” Mbvundula said.
“To say the truth, I do not think we will make any headway on the stadium because for government to construct and run such facilities these days it appears awkward. Government has better things to do for its people.”
According to the ministry’s mouthpiece football is important and is more of a religion in our country, but as government, they value people’s lives more than anything else and they cannot take chances to risk lives just to impress a small section of the public.
When asked what would happen once Kamuzu Stadium is closed, Mbvundula said: “Of course, there will be some structures but I cannot commit to say whether it will be another stadium.”
Nevertheless, he advised Blantyre-based clubs to make do with the other available venues in the city or surrounding districts.
“Of course, the stadium is the biggest venue in Blantyre but we also have alternative venues such as MDC Stadium, Mpira Stadium in Chiwembe and BAT ground. Close to Blantyre, we have Kalulu Stadium [in Nchalo] and Balaka Stadium. In the meantime, these can ably substitute Kamuzu Stadium,” he said.
Despite that, he could not say whether the alternative facilities, which are not in good shape, will be renovated in time for hosting of the top-flight league games.
On his part, Nyamilandu said they will table the issue of alternative plans during a meeting the minister has arranged with sports associations next week.
“We will officially discuss this at the indaba that the minister has called for,” said Nyamilandu.
But Blantyre-based Super League giants, Wanderers, Big Bullets and Tigers, who already had a bad experience in 2012 when they lost K4 million in gate revenue from their nine home games played away after Kamuzu Stadium was closed by the then Sports Minister Enoch Chihana, have expressed concern over the latest development.
“I feel the ministry is trying to abdicate from its responsibilities of taking care of the public’s social welfare. What is the ministry’s duties then if they stop providing facilities for its people? Government should not run away from its responsibilities,” said Wanderers vice-chairperson Gift Mkandawire.
However, he said they are doing their best to have their own stadium soon.
Big Bullets chairperson Noel Lipipa said they saw it [stadium closure] coming, but they are yet to sit down to plan for next season and erect own football facility.
“We knew things were going bad for Kamuzu Stadium. That is why we recently started to push for our commercialisation drive so that investors can flexibly come to help the club have own facilities. So far, we have three potential investors but everything will become clear after our annual general meeting (AGM) in February 2017,” said Lipipa
On his part, Tigers technical director Robin Alufandika said: “Life will be very difficult, especially for clubs that have no meaningful sponsorship like us.”
“At present, we get only K500 000 per month from our sponsors and we are financially too weak to start a stadium project. Government should step in to make companies have interest in football sponsorship, otherwise, we will become extinct.” n