Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers’ mega sponsorships and the removal of K3 million transfer fee cap have led to a sharp rise in player prices on the transfer market.
There has been mix reaction on the development with critics describing it as unfair while somes say it will minimise player poaching.
According to Bullets and Wanderers, on average, teams have been demanding between K4 million and K6 million for players who previously they could buy at K1 million.
Nyasa Manufacturing Company and Bullets last week signed a K500 million five year sponsorship deal while Wanderers recently got a K106 million annual package from Be Forward Limited.
The financial breakthroughs came after the two most followed clubs had spent years without sponsors.
Speaking in an interview, Bullets chairperson Sam Chilunga described pricing during the ongoing transfer market as prohibitive.
“These clubs think we have monies and sometimes you wonder how the valuation is done. In normal circumstances, you consider age, experience and the future prospects of the players,” Chilunga said.
Bullets is struggling to sign Civo United defenders Emmanuel Zoya and John Lanjesi who have been pegged at K4 million each while the People’s Team is offering K2.5 million each.
“The authorities need to review their position on this issue otherwise, it will kill football because what it means is that teams that do not have the financial power will get weaker while the rich ones will get stronger” he said.
Wanderers general secretary Mike Butao echoed Chilunga’s concerns.
“When we didn’t have sponsors, teams used to demand, on average, K1 million but now some ask for K4 million and above for a player. It’s really shocking because the money we have is not only meant to buy players,” he said.
Apart from the clubs’ high demands, Butao said players are also demanding high signing-on fee.
“If you pay K4 million for a player and the player demands K1.5 million signing-on fee, it means you have spent over K5 million on one player. This does not make sense considering the tough economic times the country is facing,” he said.
Azam Tigers technical director Robin Alufandika said his club has opted not to buy from other Super League teams.
“For you to improve your team you need to buy better players that those you have. However, the figures being quoted on the market for the good players are only favouring ‘millionaire’ clubs,” he said.
But Epac sponsor Dean Josaya defended the high transfer fees saying they are good for football development.
“We have been victims of player poaching. The best way to stop big teams from weakening other teams is charging exorbitant prices. In that way, they will start developing their own players,” he said.
Sports consultant Felix Ngamanya Sapao noted that some teams were over-valuing their players.
He cited an example of striker Muhammad Sulumba who is being courted by Bullets and Blantyre United is demanding K3 million yet he has two months remaining in his contract.
“Some of these players have few months remaining on their contracts. Instead of paying high fees the club can just buy out the player’s contract,” he said.
FAM transfer matching system manager Casper Jangale said it was difficult for the soccer governing body to interfere with player pricing.
“After we removed the K3 million, it means that the clubs can ask for any fee. It is just unfortunate that some clubs have taken advantage of the situation to over-value the players,” he said.