This is it. Be Forward Wanderers FC sponsors, Be Forward (Japan) Limited, have warned the Nomads that unless they sort out legal issues relating to their escalating debts, they are reluctant to commit continued sponsorship.
The Lali Lubani Road outfit has debts in excess of K150 million, in particular the K59 million debt incurred from their participation in the CAF Champions League in 2018, which has since swelled up to K79 million in interest.
According to part of the correspondence which the Weekend Nation has seen, the Japanese second hand vehicle dealer claims that the club’s protracted legal issues are affecting its image.
“We want to know what is being done to address the legal issues as the current situation is, in a way, affecting our reputation as a sponsor,” reads part of the communication.
The sponsor’s local representative Mike Butao confirmed the development in an interview on Thursday, saying: “The issue is affecting the sponsorship because both the sponsors and the other Japanese partners are not happy with the legal issues ensuing from the debt.
“It is my hope as a supporter and as somebody representing these sponsors and partners that the issue will be sorted out soonest so that the club can get back on track. As for the finer details relating to the issue, please get in touch with Wanderers officials.”
Nomads chairperson Symon Sikwese was not available for comment yesterday, but last month he confessed that the Nomads were in a tight spot “and if we do not find a way out, we could be headed for a close down”.
Wanderers found themselves in a tight spot when their sponsors withdrew their commitment to bankroll the team’s participation in the continental showpiece at the last minute due to logistical and administrative challenges.
The club then made a public request for financial assistance to go ahead with their CAF tourney participation plans through mainstream and social media and received a K20 million offer from the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) vice-president Muhammad Sidik Mia, which was later on raised to include all the costs for participation
Butao, who was then the club’s general secretary (GS), confirmed Mia’s offer, saying: “Yes it is true. Honourable Mia did offer K20 million initially then revised the offer to cover the whole cost of our participation in CAF. Unfortunately and apologetically, we were not able to take up the offer as we had been advised that government would take care of all our costs.
“I as GS then, was personally involved together with [former] chairperson Gift Mkandawire in discussions with Government. We were in discussions with [then finance minister] Goodall Gondwe and had several face-to-face meetings with [former sports minister] Grace Chiumia. Later we engaged the then State president [Peter] Mutharika who directly delegated the finance and sports Ministers to sort out our issue.”
In response to a letter which the Nomads wrote as a reminder on the promised support of K59 million, Mutharika in October last year, partly wrote: “I write to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 5th October 2019, in which you have mentioned about a promise made by the former minister of finance, Honourable Goodall Gondwe in February 2019 to assist you to clear huge costs that the team incurred during your participation in CAF competition.
“I regret to inform you that I was not aware of this commitment. However, I have directed the Minister of Finance Honourable Joseph Mwanamvekha and the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Honourable Francis Phiso, M.P to discuss the matter and find the way forward.”
However, the Nomads claim that up to now government has not done anything despite the current executive following it up with a another reminder letter addressed to former ministers Mwanamvekha and Phiso dated March 25 2020.
Part of the letter, signed by current chairperson Sikwese, reads: “Our sponsors and partners in Japan are not happy with the debt situation and the legal cases. They had demanded that we resolve the issues before we can sit down to discuss the 2020 sponsorship. Delays in resolving these issues would result in us losing the sponsorship altogether.”
Sikwese said they are planning to take up the issue with the new administration.