The Peter Mutharika Southern Region Football League (SRFL) has shut the Premier Division registration door on Nchalo United after the Lower Shire side failed to pay K120 000 (about $300) registration fees.
The development means for the first time since the team was formed in the 1970s when it was called Sucoma FC, it is ineligible to feature in an organised competition this season, thereby depriving their fans of football fun.
And if they are to bounce back next year, SRFL general secretary George Pagaja on Tuesday said Nchalo could join the SRFL third-tier Division One.
“We are equally concerned that despite extending the registration deadlines many times, they still could not register. Circumstances were beyond our control and we could not force matters. If they write and give us a convincing reason, we may consider reserving Premier Division space for them next season,” Pagaja said Tuesday.
The SRFL GS bemoaned that Lower Shire supporters, especially Illovo Sugar employees, will be deprived of football entertainment and that football standards could suffer due to less competition.
Nchalo general secretary Phillip Kumchera yesterday clung to hope that they would be allowed to register later or in the worst scenario, have their Premiership status reserved for next season. The league required them to pay K90 000 (about $400) of the fee.
“The registration fee may not be the big problem, but it would not make sense to register, then fail to honour fixtures. Our budget for the entire season is K3 million (about $7 500).
“We wrote Illovo, but they are yet to respond. Our chairperson Mr Mbesa Kodo has been supporting the team, but this year, he is unable to do so. Executive committee members also used to contribute K4 000 (about $10) monthly to keep the team afloat,” Kumchera noted on Tuesday.
Nchalo, which was also renamed Illovo at the turn of the century, has been home to some big name players such as Joseph Alberto, Felix Fosiko, Bunaya Kankhokwe, Moses Meya, Jones Napolo, Joseph Gatros, Charles Manda and Peter Kaunda.
Napolo, who was suspended recently as technical director, on Tuesday said his efforts to seal a deal with a potential sponsor stalled due to the punishment, adding “but if reinstated, I would follow up on the sponsor and plead with the league to entertain us. We are the league’s [SRFL] mainstay.”
Also out of Premier Division football this season are Zomba Airwing, Liwonde Medicals and Machinga ADD who have been unable to pay the registration fees.
Premier Division membership has since remained at 20 with Division One at 16, according to SRFL vice-general secretary Kingsley Simbeye.