After tearing into the past regime and FAM leadership, newly-appointed Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama has turned to the TNM Super League sponsorship, which he describes as a raw deal for the clubs.
TNM plc bankrolls the local top-flight league to the tune of K90 million per season.
In an interview with the Weekend Nation, the minister said the package is a mockery to the clubs who invest a fortune.
“There are a lot of things that we are not doing right in our football.
“For instance, TNM invests K90 million into the league and the champions get K15 million… That is not a fair deal to the clubs.
“A team like [Nyasa Big] Bullets spends in the excess of K200 million and gets K15 million as prize money. It just doesn’t add up,” he said.
Msungama also said it is more worrying because the league is one of the least sponsored in this part of the continent.
Zambia’s Premier League is sponsored by telecommunications network provider, MTN, to the tune of $1.5 million (about K1.118 billion) per season.
Besides the MTN sponsorship, whereby each club gets $20 000 subvention (about K15 million each), the league gets $1 million (about K745 million) a year from Supersport as TV rights.
In Tanzania, the league is sponsored by another telecommunications company Vodacom to the tune of $1.3 million (about K968.5 million) per season, whereas in Mozambique, Standard Bank sponsors the Mocambola League at $710 297.50 (about K529 million) a year plus 30 percent air travel expenses’ sponsorship. In Zimbabwe, Delta Beverages sponsors the Premier Soccer League at $700 000 (about K521 million) per season.
“So, these are the things that need to be looked into. There is a lot that we need to tackle to improve our football and sport in general,” said Msungama.
The minister did not spare the clubs either, saying they need to be resourceful in their commercialisation drives.
“I have been to England to watch my team Arsenal where football is serious business.
“Clubs there make a lot of money through membership which is classified into categories. Apart from TV rights, they also make money from initiatives like tourism, whereby people from all over the world take in a number of exciting exhibits. Our clubs should be thinking along those lines other than just depend on gate collections,” he said.
However, the integrated mobile network and ICT services provider’s brand and communication manager Limbani Nsapato said they would only comment after getting in touch with the minister.
Super League of Malawi (Sulom) president Tiya Somba-Banda said: “It’s quite encouraging that from the onset, the honourable minister’s vision is on the quick wins which is what we have been grappling with for sometime.
“The minister mentioned that we need to implement e-ticketing. This gives us the energy to implement as we all know almost all the stadia in the country are owned by government and with the minister’s direction, we believe that electronic turnstiles will be installed in these stadiums to enable a full fledged e-ticketing system. His assertions have come at a right time as we would want to eliminate cash in the gates as one way of maximizing revenues and also preventing spread of Covid-19.
“However, as we are in the process of contract negotiations with TNM, the weighing in of the minister makes a lot of sense from a business case point of you.”
Be Forward Wanderers chairperson Symon Sikwese and Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga applauded the minister for raising the sponsorship issue.
Said Sikwese: “Basically what the minister has pointed out is true. It is an issue which his predecessors should have taken up.
“The sponsorship does not reflect what clubs spend and the direction that he has taken needs to be supported.
“As a club, we entirely agree with his observation and hope that he will find a way to pursue it for the good of the clubs and our football in particular.”
On his part, Chigoga said: “It is not a secret that Malawi’s top-flight league sponsorship is one of the lowest in the region.
“We raised our issues with Sulom touching on the same and hopefully they were able to take it up with the sponsors. Improvement of sponsorship is ideal in that sense.”