A new twist to Be Forward Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets stadium projects shows that the government will own stadia and the two clubs will just be managing them.
Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Principal Secretary Chancy Simwaka told a cluster meeting of Parliament on Friday in Lilongwe that the facilities will belong to government.
Speaking in an interview, former Nyasa Big Bullets chief executive officer Fleetwood Haiya said the community.stadia were initially meant for the
President Peter Mutharika during the May 21 Tripartite Elections campaign promised to build stadia for the country’s two top teams and an allocation of K1.6 billion has been made in the 2019/20 National Budget.
Haiya’s reaction comes amid criticism of government’s plan to use taxpayers’ money to build the stadia.
He said it was unfair for people to accuse the government of using taxpayers’ money to build stadia for the ‘two private entities’ without understanding the agreement.
Haiya said the agreement states that Bullets and Wanderers will manage on ‘lease basis’ while Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) will have the title deeds.
“What people should know is that during the handover of the land it was from Blantyre City to government to us [clubs] which shows that we will not own the stadia as such.
“These stadia were, initially supposed to be community stadium in Blantyre but then it was decided that they will not be put to maximum use,” he said.
He said both clubs had no problems with the arrangement.
“As we are aware, Bullets and Wanderers wanted to jointly lease Kamuzu Stadium. So with this arrangement, for now we can’t complain,” said Haiya.
Wanderers chairperson Gift Mkandawire, who spoke on behalf of the two clubs when President Mutharika had an audience with the two clubs last week, also said the stadiums will benefit the community.
Sports Council acting executive secretary Henry Mereka confirmed the development, saying it does not matter who owns the stadia because it will contribute to sports development.
“The owners of the land could be Malawi National Council of Sports which is the government, but it is the principle [the development of sports] behind the stadium project which is very important.
“As we [Sports Council] are mandated to promote development of sports in the country we are very happy because what is a hindrance to develop sports is lack of sports facilities. It’s not only Bullets and Wanderers who are going to benefit but the communities around the stadia,” he said.
While advising the two clubs to open up to the public, Mereka said the they would be in a better position to manage the stadia.
“I would advise both clubs to embrace the stadia as instruments of football development in the country.”
Football analyst Geroge Kaudza Masina also said there was nothing wrong with the arrangement.
“The idea of having the stadium for Wanderers and Bullets by the government is very welcome.
“This is just the beginning. I can foresee other teams benefitting in future. Let the corporate players emulate this move by the government.