The writing was on the wall all along. Super League exclusive television rights holders Beta Television have finally thrown in the towel and announced that they will no longer beam Super League matches this season due to financial problems.
The announcement means that the television station has failed to fulfil the contractual obligation it undertook last season after a successful bid.
Beta Television station manager Theunis Bester said the station can longer shoulder the burden of costs for the production of matches.
“We have decided to stop the production of Super League matches until such a time when we will secure sponsorship that will allow us to cover for the production costs,” he said.
A single match, according to Bester, costs about K5 million.
He, however, said the situation is not permanent and that they still want to remain the exclusive Super League match holders and see to the end.
“We are just temporarily halting all the production because it is simply too expensive to do it at the moment and there is no money coming in,” he said.
Ironically, last week Bester announced that they were about to secure a sponsor to be announced before the league kick off only to fail to even beam the official launch for the 2017 season.
Bester said the station was struggling to even pay salaries for its workers; hence “continuing production of matches when there is no sponsor, is not possible.”
The Beta Television and Super League of Malawi (Sulom) agreement seemed to have been doomed from the word go.
Despite several stakeholders questioning Sulom’s decision to award Beta the rights, the league runners still went on and awarded the deal at K266 million for three years.
Up to date, not a penny has been paid, prompting clubs to start calling for the annulment of the deal.
The latest upshot has even fuelled the anger of the clubs, led by giants Silver Strikers, Nyasa Big Bullets and be Forward Wanderers, who are accusing Sulom of paying a blind eye to the calls for the scrutinising of the deal.
Silver general secretary Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda said Sulom has to take responsibility for the situation.
He also called for Beta to honour the contractual obligation of paying last season’s K40 million even after suspending the beaming of matches.
Sulom treasurer Tiya Somba Banda said they had referred the matter to the body’s legal team.
“Basically, we just have to be guided by the contractual obligation of both sides. The natural flow of the contract will follow its course,” he said.
Football Association Malawi (FAM) marketing and commercial director Limbani Matola said it was time to go back to the drawing board on the rights issue.
“I think this has taught us a lesson. It’s too early to start pointing accusing fingers. This gives all stakeholders a chance to go back to the drawing board and see where things went wrong so that we can improve in future deals,” he said.
Initially, FAM asked all its affiliates that it wanted all football matches rights consolidated so that the association can bargain for a better deal.
But Sulom opted to go solo. n