Push comes to shove. Be Forward Wanderers fear that they could be forced to close shop as creditors continue to breathe down their neck.
The Nomads chairperson Symon Sikwese said this following Weekend Nation findings that the club’s K59 million debt, incurred during the 2018 CAF Champions League participation, has swelled to about K79 million in interest.
Their sponsor Be Forward Limited’s move to cut the club’s K150 million sponsorship by half due to effects of the coronavirus pandemic, has worsened their situation.
And as desperation takes its toll, the Lali Lubani Road outfit, which also has other debts in excess of about K150 million, has sought government’s intervention.
According to documents that we have sourced, when the Nomads travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for their preliminary round fixture against AS Vita, they acquired air tickets on credit amounting to K22 million and the debt is incurring an interest of about K540 000 every month.
In DRC, Wanderers asked AS Vita to foot their food and accommodations costs on the understanding that the Nomads would reciprocate in the return match.
The Nomads also had to pay allowances, travel, transport, food and accommodation costs for officiating and CAF personnel for their home game which only raised K7 million from gate revenue which was a far cry from the costs incurred.
An inside source said Wanderers also owes its lawyers legal fees and collection costs for lawyers of the service providers.
“All these costs have resulted in the initial CAF debt shooting from K59 million to over K79 million,” said the source.
However, while confirming that the creditors are on the club’s neck, Sikwese could not be drawn to comment further.
He said: “All I can say is the situation is getting out of hand for us and if we do not find a way out, we could be headed for a close down.”
The Nomads boss also confirmed that they have sought government’s assistance to help them clear the debt.
He said: “Yes, we approached government, but there has been no response yet. That is all I can say for now.”
But Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture Chancy Simwaka said: “As government, we do not comment on issues to do with private companies. If anything, the onus is on the club to comment.”
Wanderers found themselves in a tight spot when their sponsors Be Forward Limited withdrew their commitment to bankroll the team’s participation in the continental showpiece at the last minute due to some logistical and administrative challenges.
The club then made a public request for financial assistance through the press and online media and received a K20 million offer from Muhammad Sidik Mia, which was later raised to include all our costs for participating.
But the club was forced to turn down the offer by some of its trustees, who are affiliated to the government on the basis that it would have been inappropriate to accept an offer from an influential figure of an opposition political party.
The club’s former chairperson Humphrey Mvula, who was the adviser of the fundraising committee for the CAF tourney, said: “I am aware that Wanderers approached several people to help it meet the CAF fixtures, I am also aware that the President [Peter Mutharika] was approached via a letter.
He said: “I was made to understand that one of those approached in the name of Sidik Mia, agreed to contribute to the total cost, but this offer was turned down because some trustees advised that the President would instead meet all expenses.
“I am also meant to understand that several meetings took place between Wanderers and government officials represented by [former finance and economic planning minister] Goodall Gondwe and [former sports minister] Grace Chiume.
“Meetings have also taken place with some current officials, again without success, but meanwhile the team has a huge debt that has accumulated interest. I think the honourable thing that government can do is to settle the debt plus interest otherwise one is left with the impression that the intent was to manipulate Wanderers supporters to vote for APM. I trust this promise must be honoured before the next voting.”