Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises has spoken of the need for review of gate collection sharing arrangement so that football clubs, most of which are struggling financially, should generate meaningful revenue.
The committee’s member Alex Meja said this in an interview after the committee met Football Association of Malawi (FAM), Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) and Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) in Lilongwe as part of preparations for the 2016/17 national budget’s mid-year review which the National Assembly started yesterday.
“It is shocking that clubs don’t earn much from the gate collections despite that they are responsible for taking care of the players who are the key components of the game,” he said.
The committee’s concern comes on the heels of revelations that the clubs got less than half of the total revenue collected from Super League matches in the just ended season.
According to Sulom, clubs pocketed about K158.8 million of over K420.5 million gross gate collection while Sulom and FAM pocketed K31.1 million each.
Among the 16 clubs, the two bodies’ share was only bettered by Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers.
The rest of the 14 clubs were far off FAM and Sulom’s revenue gains with the worst earners Max Bullets and Karonga United pocketing K3 million and K4.1 million respectively.
According to the match gate collection sharing rules, each club pockets 25 percent, FAM and Sulom take 10 percent each, stadium owners, mostly government as it owns most of the match venues, get 25 percent and the MNCS rakes in five percent.
Meja, who is also for Kasungu West parliamentarian, said there is no way the welfare of the players can improve if government and sports administering bodies get “huge cuts from the gate money.”
“We have just learned through the meeting that the players get low salaries, they are not insured and are not even on medical scheme. We doubt if clubs can take care of the players when they can’t get enough from the gate collections,” he said.
“The arrangement needs to be revised so that clubs are the key beneficiaries, otherwise we do not see the welfare of players improving.”
Meja said they will compile a report on the financial struggles facing football and netball which will be submitted to government.
“In it we are expected to highlight the challenges the players face and also provide possible solutions. There need to cut gate collection shares from stadium owners and football administering bodies like FAM,” he said.
But FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda defended their gate collection share, saying the funds are invested in efforts to promote local football.
“We use the same money to organise referees and coaches trainings among other activities. In a bigger way this money still benefits the same clubs,” he said.
Gunda argued that clubs cry foul over gate revenue because they do not have other revenues of generating funds.
Meanwhile, Epac United general secretary Chiyamiko Lita hailed the parliamentary committee intervention as a catalyst to improving club football.
“There is really need to change the set up. We would love if government reduced the venue levy from 25 percent to 10 percent. Added to that, FAM should completely stop getting a share from all Super League games,” he said.
However, Lita cautioned the clubs against abusing the gate collection revenue through diverting some to the supporters for “who we don’t even know how they spend it.” n