Football Association of Malawi (FAM) says Kamuzu Stadium capacity will be trimmed further to 14 600 from 22 000 following a recommendation from the world football governing body Fifa.
FAM acting competitions manager Casper Jangale said this follows an inspection that was carried out by Fifa’s security experts in September last year.
“Technically, as it is now, the capacity is zero until it is certified fit by experts when the renovations are fully completed.
“But apart from that, we also got communication from Fifa that the capacity should be trimmed from 22 000 to 14 600 if the cordoned off stands will remain as they are,” he said.
The development will most likely affect clubs’ revenue, in particular the Blantyre derby which features age-old rivals Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers.
However, Jangale said the two giants could still make a fortune by increasing the gate charges which could also act as a capacity control measure.
“Even under such circumstances, the stadium can still host the Blantyre derby as raising the entry fee could act as a control measure,” he said.
Wanderers chairperson Gift Mkandawire described the development as a big blow.
“In essence, it means Blantyre still does not have a stadium suitable to host big matches and we will continue to rely on Bingu [National] Stadium.
“In my view, priority of the renovations should have been the stands,” he said.
Meanwhile, stadium manager Ambirike Mwaungulu said rubber, which was the only material left to complete the installation of the artificial turf, has now started arriving.
“It started arriving two days ago and works should continue this week,” he said.
Other areas which Fifa recommended were renovation of the covered stands, toilets, drainage system, dressing rooms and erection of a tunnel from the dressing rooms to the pitch and according to Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development public relations officer Christina Mkutumula, most of them have been done.
She, however, could not be drawn to state the exact date when the stadium will be reopened.
Fifa safety and security experts Peter Weymes and Rick Riding were baffled with the state of the ailing stadium last year.
“It’s old and complicated,” Weymes told FAM officials during the inspection. n