Super League of Malawi’s (Sulom) underbelly in the identification of 16th team has been exposed after two conflicting letters were sent to Football Association of Malawi(FAM).
Sulom executive met on February 19 at Delamere House in Blantyre where a decision was reached to implement the decision to identify 16 teams through play-offs.
According to minutes to the executive committee meeting which we have, item three was on identification of 16th team.
“The house agreed to implement the AGM resolution of having a 16-member league. The house further agreed on playoffs as it would be fair to all relegated teams to be given equal chance to remain in the league rather that promoting the best loser from the previous season. A round robin play-off was agreed to take place from 11th to 13th March 2016 at Civo Stadium and that administrative costs were to be split among the three competing teams,” read the minutes in part.
On February 25, a letter reference number 0A2/3/16 was written to notify FAM on the matter.
“We write to inform [you]that at its extra ordinary annual general meeting held on 14th November, 2015, the meeting resolved to have 16 teams in the league. However, due to the FAM elective annual general meeting as well as the fact that the league was in session, the Sulom executive failed to meet to decide on the criteria to be used to get the 16th team.
“The Sulom executive committee met on 19th February 2016 and deliberated on the issue and agreed to have 16 teams in the league in order to iron out the perennial fixtures problem. Among the options discussed were to conduct play-offs where the relegated teams could compete among themselves on a round robin league basis. This was agreed but have the demerit that it will disadvantage the team preparations for new season, club licensing evaluation, procurement of uniform and other equipments by the sponsors considering that the procurement is at an advanced stage,” the letter signed by Sulom general secretary reads in part.
The letter also explains that the executive committee meeting considered the option of letting the 13th placed team to rejoin the Super League.
“The option number two which was deliberated by the executive was to consider the 13th placed team on the log standing of 2015 season. This has the demerit of being seen as not acting fairly, but the criteria will ease the problem of time factor in terms of preparations for the season as well as licensing and sponsors concern of uniform procurement. The licensing is at an advanced stage , the league kicks off on 16th April 2016 and sponsors would like to have at least 20 names of players from each club by 15th March, 2016 , this have compelled Sulom to seek your advice and direction in the interest of football.
“In view of this we submit our request to consider that the additional team should be based on the points accumulated for the past season i.e. the team on position 13 on the log table. We hereby submit for your guidance and directives,” the letter further reads.
However, another letter also from Sulom dated February 25 also Ref. number 0A2/3/16, has another version.
“We write to inform that following an executive meeting held on 19 February 2016m Sulom executive agreed to have 16 teams in 2016 however, the meeting resolved to conduct play-offs which will impact the team to get prepared for the 2017 season which is commencing on 9 April 2016 and also considering the requirements of club licensing.
“In view of this we submit our request to consider that the additional team should be based on the points accumulated for the past ie the team on position 13 on the log table. We hereby submit for your approval,” the second letter also signed by Williams Banda reads.
This letter was sent to FAM by Sulom executive member Alfred Lungu using his email email@example.com.
The letter was also sent to Dedza Young Soccer general secretary Harold Mmora by Sulom general secretary Banda using his email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, FAM says it responded to the first letter on March 8.
“Reference is made to your letter Ref. 0A2/3/16 dated 25th February 2016 on the above subject matter. After analysing the minutes of the Sulom executive committee held on 19th February 2016 at Sulom officials in Delamere House, the Football Association of Malawi is of the view that the resolution made by Sulom executive committee regarding the play-offs is consistent with Sulom Constitution-Article 22 subsection 1a and 1b. We trust that this is the guidance and direction that FAM can provide on this matter,” the letter signed by FAM general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda reads.
When asked what exactly was FAM’s view, Nyirenda said it was in support of play-offs since the minutes to the Sulom executive commitee meeting showed that it was a decison that was reached.
“In fact, I had telephone conservation with Williams Banda on the issue,” said Nyirenda.
On the letter sent by Lungu, Nyirenda said: “I never spoke to Mr. Lungu. I was dealing with Sulom GS. Mr Lungu is in a better position to explain why in what capacity he was sending me that letter.”
But Lungu denied sending the letter to FAM.
“I don’t know how my email address is appearing there,” said Lungu.
However, the list of all people that had access to the second letter shows that both Lungu and Sulom GS circulated the letter.
Dedza Young Soccer general secretary Mmora also confirmed receiving the second letter from the Sulom officials.
“That’s what we were officially told by the Sulom GS. We don’t know anything about the play-offs,” Mmora said.
Dedza has used the letter from Sulom as a basis for an injunction which it obtained on Friday to stop the play-offs.