Some small TNM Super League clubs fear that some conditions set by FAM for the resumption of football to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, will affect them financially.
Karonga United, TN Stars and Chitipa United cited social distancing as one aspect which could affect patronage leading to low revenue, especially when facing big teams.
They were echoing views from immediate past Be Forward Wanderers chairperson Gift Mkandawire that teams are better off not being active because they are not incurring operational costs.
Said Karonga general secretary (GS) Ramzy Simwaka: “This is another Covid-19 that we small teams have to face because reduced capacity means low revenue. Of course, we already generate low revenue from games, but when facing big teams we make quite a substantial amount and that means we will lose out big time.
“Compensating it with increased gate charges won’t work because with the current economic climate, fans cannot afford to cough more.”
On his part, Kasungu-based TN Stars administrator Jones Banda said: “The arrangement of mitigating reduced capacity with increased gate charges won’t serve the purpose because football fans are also struggling financially, unless if they [FAM and Sulom] will also subsidise on operational costs such as transport as well”
He also said football being an emotional game, it is doubtful on whether social distancing will work.
Chitipa United GS Duma Ngoma also said the arrangement “will have a very big negative impact” on small clubs.
He said: “Our operations depend on the little we get through gate collections because we do not have sponsorship like other teams.
“Much as we appreciate the cushion from FAM [through the relief package], it is not enough to cover our budget and the arrangement on reduced capacity will only worsen matters.”
Mkandawire said while the football fraternity is eagerly looking forward to the resumption of the game, the focus should be on the impact.
“[Because] it is clear that the effects of Covid-19 will have a major down spiral effect on teams. While FAM has put measures, for instance social distance, is a clear example of low patronage to be expected which translates to low gate collections.
“Imagine a team travelling to Karonga from Blantyre with such a low income, the impact will be catastrophic. Worse still, smaller teams will likely not be able to finish the two seasons with such low income because normally they ride on revenue from games with big teams,” he observed.
The former Nomads boss suggested that going forward, teams need to find other ways of getting income, “otherwise teams will collapse even with whatever relief they are to benefit if any”.
However, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said such pros and cons will be thrashed out and considered during the consultation process with the key stakeholders.
He said: “At the end of the day, the stakeholders will have to make an informed decision in the best interests of saving lives of the players, officials and fans. Safety will be the priority as we roll out in phases.”
He also said the football fraternity will need to be cautious by adopting a gradual approach to opening up of the games in order to test and learn from the experience before going full scale.
“This will limit the risk of exposure to coronavirus and make sure that there are no costly mistakes.
“From the revenue point of view, reduced capacity can be compensated by increased gate charges,” said the FAM president.
“We will need to balance the act so that all parties do not suffer in the process.”