Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Henry Mussa yesterday morning met TNM management in Blantyre to discuss their decision to withdraw Super League sponsorship.
A well-placed source confided in The Nation that Super League of Malawi (Sulom) officials also attended the closed door meeting that lasted for about one and a half hours.
“The minister called for the meeting to appreciate the reasons behind TNM’s move and pleaded with them to reconsider their decision and in the end TNM said they would make their position by Friday.
“However, it was also resolved that the discussions should not be leaked to the media,” said the source.
But while confirming that he was supposed to meet TNM management team yesterday, Mussa claimed that the meeting had been postponed.
“Yes, I was supposed to meet TNM management, but it has been postponed due to my being summoned back to Capital Hill [in Lilongwe] for an urgent assignment.
“New date shall be communicated asap [as soon as possible],” he said.
TNM senior manager for public relations Akossa Mphepo was also elusive on the matter.
“I am not at the office today…there was no meeting. Talk to the minister,” she said.
Last week, the minister said he would engage TNM to persuade them to reconsider their decision.
TNM announced its withdrawal of the K90 million sponsorship last week following a ruling by the Competition and Fair Trade Commission (CFTC) that the mobile and data services provider’s contract with Sulom has unfair trade practice clauses.
Part of the statement signed by TNM chief executive officer Douglas Stevenson, reads: “Following the meeting [held] on Monday , March 20th, where Sulom and FAM were to get clarity on the ruling by CFTC on the future of the contract with TNM, CFTC has broadly maintained its ruling and, therefore, TNM has made a decision to fully withdraw its sponsorship of the Super League and let other potential sponsors take part in the continued development of the sport in the country.
“TNM acknowledges and abides by the determination made by CFTC and would not want to be found to be acting in the matter that has negative effects on the development of football in Malawi.”
However, Sulom claims that TNM owes them sponsorship for the forthcoming season despite the agreement between the two parties expiring on April 17 this year.
Last week, Sulom general secretary Williams Banda said the sponsorship contract stipulates that the renewal negotiations commence at least a year before the current one expires.
“At the time of renewing the five-year contract in 2012, we had one year left just like in 2009.
“It is actually in this contract that the renewal should be done at least one year before the expiry of the current one. In this case, TNM still has one more year to sponsor, then they can pull out if they want,” Banda said in an interview with The Nation last week. n