Economic hardships have taken a toll on Southern Region Football League (SRFL), a situation that has led to over 15 teams forfeiting points in as many games.
According to The Nation findings, eight Premier Division teams and 11 Division One clubs were forced to forfeit points after failing to meet the deadline for paying K80 000 (about $200) registration fee.
The unprecedented development led to over 30 games not taking place.
Premier League sides that forfeited points were champions Evirom, Brave Warriors, Polytechnic, Nyasa United, BNC, Changalume Barracks, Zomba United and White Eagles.
The First Division teams were Black Stars, Chileka Hammers, Kawere, Hiras, Mubarak, Chitawira Rangers, Chirimba, Bond-Tek, Awonenji, Siena and Government Print. The teams forfeited between three and 10 games.
The development has led to teams such as Warriors and Polytechnic being relegated from the Premier Division.
Warriors produced Big Bullets red-hot forward Gabadinho Mhango and former Mighty Wanderers enterprising winger Gerald Phiri Jnr.
The country’s second-tier league’s vice-general secretary Kingsley Simbeye said the clubs were given enough grace period to pay the registration.
“The clubs owe us over K900 000 [about $2 250] outstanding registration fees in total. As a result, we were struggling to meet our administrative obligations such as ground maintenance and officiation fees,” said Simbeye.
He also said at the start of the second round, the teams were given two weeks to settle the dues or risk forfeiting points, but they could still not settle the dues.
Simbeye, however, said the unwritten rule [forfeiting points] was made clear to the teams at the start of the season.
He said in the event that a fixture pitted teams that had failed to honour payment, the game was nullified.
He attributed teams’ failure to honour their dues to mainly the current tough economic climate.
Warriors outspoken director George ‘Jemba-Jemba’ Kapachika said they were not aware that they had forfeited points.
“That is corruption of the highest order because we did not get formal communication from the league to that effect. We are a legitimate club and we will pursue the matter vigorously through other channels,” said Kapachika.
Nyasa United’s team manager Lawrent Kamanga and his Chileka counterpart Mike Phiri attributed their predicament to budgetary constraints.
“Apart from registration fees, we had to consider other operational costs such as transport because the league also involves travelling outside your district base,” said Kamanga
On his part, Phiri said: “Unlike last season when we could afford to pay the fees in instalments, this time, it was tough for us and it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet all the obligations due to financial constraints.”