Of the 15 Super League of Malawi (Sulom) teams, only two are legal entities, it has been established.
The rest of the local premier football clubs, according to our investigations, are either loose gatherings of like minds or only get their legitimacy by association, but they are not registered under the laws of Malawi.
Some analysts say the lack of legal existence could be one of the reasons sponsors shun the teams, most of whom have no traceable physical addresses. The duly registered two are Silver Strikers and Azam Tigers.
Those that exist legally by association are Malawi Defence Force (MDF) teamsÃ¢â‚¬â€Moyale Barracks, Mafco FC, Red Lions and relegated Cobbe BarracksÃ¢â‚¬â€Malawi Police ServiceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Blue Eagles and governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Civo United.
Mafco chairperson Major Gift Ntete said on Monday that his team, just like all army teams, falls under the direct command of the clubÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s respective unit commanders; hence, do not need to be registered as separate entities.
The restÃ¢â‚¬â€Blantyre United, Mighty Wanderers, Big Bullets, Escom United, relegated Embangweni United and Zomba UnitedÃ¢â‚¬â€have no legal ownership.
Out of 50-plus second-tier three regional league teams, only Chikhwawa United and Brave Warriors are registered.
Analysts note that banks, businesspeople and financial lending institutions only listen to proposals for loans, sponsorship and partnerships from duly registered companies with board of trustees so that in the event of loan default, for example, lenders know who is liable to repay.
It partly explains why, apart from the Reserve Bank of Malawi-funded Silver, Tigers, Army and Police teams, the rest are without sponsorship.
No one but the clubs management is to blame, according to football administrator and lawyer Trouble Kalua.
“Sadly, the majority of our football teams [including Super League sides] are merely groups of individuals coming together for a common purpose, but with no legal personality whatsoever,” said Kalua who is also Southern Region Football League (SRFL) chairperson.
Veteran football administrator and legal practitioner Sunduzwayo Madise shared KaluaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s view when he recently said that “clubs must have corporate personality. The corporate world wants to partner with legal entities.”
Silver chairperson Dr McDonald Mafuta-Mwale noted in an interview on Monday that his team registered in 2008 with a board comprising Kelvin MÃ¢â‚¬â„¢mangisa as chairperson and members Chiku Kalilombe (Nedbank), Nassah Tayub (Xerographics), Rodrick Chataika (ADL), Paul Chimimba (Monsanto Malawi), Griffin Nyirenda (Maneno Book Publishers), among others.
Mafuta-Mwale advocated for clubsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ change of mentality so that they are run as business entities.
Blantyre United administrator Lawson Nakoma, who on Monday admitted that his club was not registered, said people who have been helping the club want to protect their investment by wanting it to be registered. That process, he said, is underway.
Every month, several individuals pump in Blantyre United a minimum of K600 000 (about $3 592).
While it does not demand much to register a company, it would seem old style football administration that regards this task as part-time is derailing the move.
Elsewhere, football clubs have evolved from being groups of interested people to business entities.
According to Kalua, league bodies such as SRFL, FAM and Sulom may provide guidance, but, ultimately, it is the responsibility of individual club administrators to see the sense of registering as companies or trusts.
Wilkins Mijiga, one of the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leading corporate marketers, said on Tuesday that in the eyes of the corporate world, dealing with clubs without a legal profile is a huge gamble on transparency and accountability; hence, “are not very keen to step up to the plate and assist in one way or another”.
“Due to lack of legal personality status, clubs have a notorious reputation for anarchy and rogue behaviour that has often times resulted in ugly scenes within the club structures. This has resulted in intra-club fighting or inter-club fighting at match venues and even going on the rampage damaging private and public property,” he said.
Mijiga, who is chief marketing officer for National Bank of Malawi, said the fights result in negative publicity which the corporate world hates.
For City Glass managing director Dean Pinto, who is also a trained coach and sports official, there is only one starting point to clubs getting legal personality, they must not waste time with fans, but supporters who eventually become stakeholders.