TNM Super League sponsorship will be maintained under the same terms for the next three years as there is no provision for review in the joint agreement which TNM plc and government came up with in April this year.
Sulom president Innocent Bottomani on Friday said as per the agreement reached by government and TNM, the sponsorship will be subject to review in 2020.
“According to the statement which the sponsor and government issued, the terms will remain unchanged and as it is, our hands are tied,” he said.
Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila said upon consulting officials in his ministry, “I am told the contract will be extended under the same terms before being reviewed in 2020”.
Part of the statement which the two parties issued when TNM reconsidered its decision to withdraw the K95 million sponsorship, reads: “We are also very grateful to CFTC [Competitions and Fair Trade Commission] board and their parent, Ministry of Industry and Trade for their subsequent and clearer interpretation of their earlier decision that the current contract agreement be maintained until the year 2020.”
TNM sponsorship and public relations manager Akossa Hiwa said she was not sure whether the current sponsorship would be reviewed.
“I do not know if it will be the same package or if there will be an increment. I will check with management after which, I will come back to you,” she said.
But some clubs feel Sulom should negotiate for a review.
Be Forward Wanderers chairperson Gift Mkandawire said: “Much as the issue of review was overlooked, Sulom can still lobby for a review of the extended deal.
“I believe TNM is always with us, operating in the same environment where prices of essential commodities is adjusted upwards.
“Cost of running around to play games is almost double and we, therefore, expect TNM to increase not only the sponsorship but also the allocation of subventions and prize money, possibly by reviewing the distribution of the cake.”
Silver Strikers general secretary Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda said the league cannot be run under the same sponsorship package.
“We did not contribute any input towards the extended sponsorship as a club which is unfortunate. There are some issues that we, as clubs, want addressed by the sponsors, but unfortunately we were not consulted as an affiliate of Sulom,” he said.
His Nyasa Big Bullets counterpart Albert Chigonga said the agreement was made out of desperation.
“Considering that our economy has never been stable, if the sponsorship package will be maintained at K95 million then it will become a mere social league. What we currently spend to fulfil fixtures is by far compared to what we earn. Playing just for the pride is a thing of the past, football is now big business.
“If we were part of the negotiating team we would have advised the sponsors to, among others, revise awards to media because outstanding players get small recognition than reporters. Administration and marketing allocation should also not be more than the money teams receive. TNM should also consider increasing participation fees considerably not as is the case now.
“It is clear that they [TNM and government] did not consider the economy of scale when they reached this agreement and Sulom needs to consult government and go back to the sponsor to renegotiate,” he said.
However, Bottoman countered the clubs, saying: “It seems clubs don’t understand the contractual package with TNM.
“Do they know how much money is spent on administration? Ask them. Teams get a considerable share from gate collections. In fact, they get more than the prize money from gate revenue. We are still an amateur league. Most of these teams don’t operate on a professional level. They don’t even own stadia,” argued the Sulom boss.
The local flagship league is one of the least sponsored in the region. Zambia has an annual $1.5 million (about K1.1 billion) sponsorship, Botswana enjoys a 13 million pula (about K1 billion) sponsorship, Mozambique has a $750 000 (about K600 million for prize money only), Tanzania has a $1 million (about K734 million) sponsorship while Zimbabwe has a $700 000 (about K513.8 million) sponsorship.
In April TNM announced the withdrawal of the sponsorship following a CFTC ruling that when renewing the contract, clauses that stop Sulom and clubs from entering agreements with other mobile service providers should be scrapped.
TNM then made a U-turn after government, through the then sports minister Henry Mussa, intervened and renewed the contract for three more years. Initially the contract was supposed to end this season.