Super League of Malawi (Sulom) has admitted that the drive to improve clubs’ gate revenue will be a tall order after unearthing loopholes in stadia security and rampant fraud during an on-going investigation.
Sulom treasurer Tiya Somba-Banda said these are preliminary findings of the investigations to establish the root cause of low gate revenue despite big crowds that patronise most games.
The domestic premiership governing body was jostled into action after Silver Strikers and Big Bullets complained that the K12 million that was realised during their launch game at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe, was not a reflection of the big turnout. Sulom is also baffled as to how last Sunday’s match between Bullets and Surestream FC only grossed slightly over K4 million when the stadium was packed.
“Other than just come up with assumptions, we decided to launch investigations to establish the root of the problem and preliminary findings show that there is indeed rampant fraud at almost all the stadiums.
“I will not go into details for fear of jeorpadising the investigations, which are in progress, but we have noted that there are coordinated syndicates that defraud gate collections.
Culprits will be brought to justice not far from now and there might also be need to overhaul the system,” said Somba-Banda.
The Sulom treasurer also said the investigations include inspecting the stadiums to detect possible loopholes.
“For a start, the vice-president [Daud Suleman] led a team that inspected Kamuzu Stadium on Monday that included stadium management and stewards’ supervisor, where it was noted that there are many loopholes that lead to people getting in for free.
“For example, the main entrance has no lock, a development that has led to people forcing their way in at times. Part of the wall fence at stand F is damaged and people climb their way in. The drainage just next to gate F is also damaged and some people use it to find their way into the stadium,” explained Somba-Banda.
He added: “The wall behind stand A2 is short and some people “easily jump in even in the presence of police officers.”
Somba-Banda further said a number of people also use the VIP entrance through unscrupulous means by conniving with those manning the gates.
“Then, there are players and officials who even when their teams are not playing, they demand free entry, in some cases with their spouses. And in some cases, even you the media also borrow your friends’ [TNM Super League] reflectors to get free access into the stadium,” he said.
The stadium’s supervisor Charles Mhango confirmed Sulom’s observations, but said most of the loopholes were supposed to have been fixed by now, “but they are under projects which have stalled. For example, there are metal poles that were erected to support iron sheets just behind the MBC Stand, but up to now the contractor has not fixed the iron sheets and such cases are beyond our control.”
Bullets treasurer Alex Gondwe said Sulom’s findings only vindicate his claims that “there are sophisticated syndicates that are milking the clubs heavily through fraud and Sulom, in liaison with the clubs need to find a way out. Otherwise, clubs will continue to get a raw deal.”
Gondwe also said apart from the loopholes at the stadium, security personnel also contribute to the malpractice by demanding a minor fee to facilitate some fans’ illegal entry.
“Then there is also the system of advance ticket sales which Sulom also needs to look into seriously because it gives room for circulation of fake tickets.”