Nyasa Manufacturing Company (NMC), sponsors of Nyasa Big Bullets FC, yesterday came out of its shell and accepted calls by the club’s main supporters committee and players to consider a buyout of the team.
NMC board chairperson Konrad Buckle said having keenly followed the debate which ensued following the request, they have been tempted to invest in the venture on condition that proper procedures are followed as the matter has legal implications in terms of structuring the club as an entity.
“Initially, we had no intentions to own a club, for us it was about sponsoring Bullets as a commercial decision to raise awareness of our brand because its 100 percent Malawian leaf which is produced locally.
“But during a recent board meeting that we had, it was felt that this could be an exciting venture and upon getting the seal of approval from the stakeholders, we are planning to invest a fortune into the club and run it like a company which will make profits,” he said.
Buckle, who was flanked by the company’s managing director Dimitri Kalaitzis, also said they will not take away the club from the people.
“From the little research we have made, we are optimistic it can run as a company. We will first invest and value the club and after three years, 50 percent of the shares will be sold back to the people as long as there will be a contract.”
“It is an expensive venture, but we believe it is viable, it is not a business that can make $100 million, but it will be an established and well cemented business that will benefit players and shareholders. I am saying this cautiously because all the businesses that we have run, have been successful. So, the ball is in the other stakeholders’ court.”
Reacting to the development, Bullets main supporters committee chairperson Stone Mwamadi said his committee will now formalise the process by engaging the trustees and executive committee.
“The recurring internal problems that we have arise from lack of a clear ownership structure. We will make sure that all the procedures are followed and a decision will be made at the EGM by the club’s bona fide members.
“We have to move with the times and have clear legal ownership so that the club is run as a business entity,” he said.
The club’s trustees vice-secretary Victor Msowoya said they have to be careful and diligent in the way they handle the matter as Bullets is not a private company.
“As board of trustees, we are not going to say yes or no, but let the process take its course. It has to start from the structures. If that process will be diligent then let it be.
“We respect and value the investment by Nyasa and they have come at the right time, but the process has to be followed,” he said.
Lawyer Sunduzwayo Madise, who once managed the club, said the root of Bullets’ problems lie in its corporate structure.
“You cannot have a situation where a team has no real owners. This idea of a community team is a sham. Resolve that and everything falls in place.
“The critical question though is what type of corporate entity is the current Bullets clothed in? Is it a company limited by shares or by guarantee of a trust? If the current one is a trust, as I suspect it is, then this is a nonstarter,” he said.
He also recalled that there have been such initiatives before which were frustrated by some supporters who felt they were being robbed of the team.
NMC signed a five-year strategic partnership deal with Bullets at the beginning of the year that will see the cigarette manufacturing company invest K500 million. n