American firm Nsejjere Sports and Casual Wear has pledged to buy Malawiâ€™s Big Bullets FC a 60-seater luxury coach on condition that the club sells 500 000 replica jerseys next season.
â€œThe projections by Bullets through our talks and also on their website say they have a fan base of over three million. Our marketing did calculations that if Bullets were to market the product, they can sell over three million shirts at $12 [K3 300 each] within a season,â€ said Nsejjere country manager Jacob Chikoya.
â€œBut we are saying sell 500 000 shirts at K3 500 within six months and we will give you a customised team coach free of charge. It is a fair deal. They benefit from the sale of the jerseys and we give them a coach,â€ said Chikoya.
He said Bullets do not pay upfront for the sportswear, but the firm would ship the consignment and deliver it at their doorstep.
â€œThe agreement is that they will do the marketing themselves. If they do this right, they stand to make millions of kwacha and they will never have to beg from people again,â€ said Chikoya.
He said Nsejjere is working with clubs in Swaziland, Senegal, Zambia and Nigeria and the deals have been successful.
â€œIn fact, in Swaziland, apart from sponsoring the clubs, we are also sponsoring the national team and we have bought a coach for them. Bullets, Silver and Escom can benefit the same way if they manage to sell the merchandise,â€ explained Chikoya.
Big Bullets admitted that the replica deal with Nsejjere could be their key to financial transformation â€œif properly doneâ€.
â€œUnlike clubs in South Africa or Europe, in Malawi, clubs are not owned. Take Bullets, for example, it does not have an owner. We do not have full-time employees to work on marketing and other day-to-day activities.
â€œAs such, it is difficult sometimes to execute a marketing policy that can benefit the club, but we agree that the deal with Nsejjere is good if well managed,â€ said Bullets general secretary Higger Mkandawire.
He said, as a club, they are trying hard to find permanent employees to market the team.
â€œCurrently, we are trying to make all the regional committees active in marketing the Nsejjere brand, but it is an expensive process. It is tough with limited finances,â€ said Mkandawire.
He said another challenge has been some â€˜grey areasâ€™ in the contract and the club has since engaged Nsejjereâ€™s marketing head office.
â€œWe are committed to honouring the contract to its fullest, but we raised concerns mainly about the quality and pricing of the sports merchandise to suit the Malawi market. They have been understanding and they promised to work on those areas,â€ said Mkandawire.
He said with good understanding, Bullets is ready to reach the target set by Nsejjere and, in the process, transform the clubâ€™s fortunes.
Silver are the pioneers of the Nsejjere sportswear deal in Malawi. They successfully sold the first consignment.
In an earlier interview, Silver Strikers chairperson Dr MacDonald Mafuta-Mwale attested to the success of the replica jerseys deal.
â€œIt has been a good deal and our fans responded overwhelmingly. Of course, we faced some challenges, but overall it was a success,â€ said Mafuta-Mwale.
Nsejjere said the only problem they faced with Silver was late remittance.
â€œSilver managed to sale all their sports apparel in time when we delivered the first consignment but payment has been slow,â€ said Chikoya.