Super League of Malawi (Sulom) says it has no plans to hike gate charges for TNM Super League matches despite the body facing financial challenges following a rise in costs of services.
Sulom treasurer Tiya Somba-Banda said in an interview football matches administration costs have risen drastically in the past three seasons, but said hiking the gate charges was not a solution as it would only lead to poor patronage.
Currently, TNM Super League games are pegged at a minimum of K500 for low-profile matches and maximum K1 500 for high-profile matches.
He said: “If we were to take into consideration the dynamics of our economy, then we are supposed to hike the gate fees. But in this case it is impractical. If we were to hike the fees let’s say, to K2 000, would it be realistic that people would come and watch matches? These are the things that we are considering.”
Even at K500 for low-profile matches and K1 500 for high-profile matches, Sulom faced challenges in the opening matches over the weekend.
Some football fans refused to pay K1 500 for the match between Nyasa Big Bullets and Kamuzu Barracks at Civo Stadium.
There were also empty stands at Mzuzu Stadium during the match between Nchalo United and Moyale Barracks.
The match, which was at K500 open stands, grossed K180 000 only and clubs got K25 000 each.
The match between Mzuzu Univerity (Mzuni) FC and Nchalo grossed slightly over K300 000 and the clubs received about K60 000 each.
Somba-Banda has since implored supporters to appreciate Sulom’s gesture of not hiking the gate fees, by accepting the current charges.
“Perhaps Malawi is the only country in the region where gate charges are the lowest. Elsewhere there is no way someone can pay K500 for a topflight league match,” he said.
But most of the supporters we talked to said paying K1 500 for a Super League match was exorbitant.
“They [Sulom] must know that most of the people that patronise football matches are low-income earners. As such, it is tough for them to cough such an amount for just one game,” said Robert Muziweni, from Mtandire in Lilongwe.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) club licencing manager Casper Jangale said both Sulom and clubs have a role to play to market their product.
He said: “The issue is two-fold. Look at it from regulators-clubs point of view. There is critical need to study the environment, the game which is the product and tools used to market the product in this case players and administrators.
“Is our product good enough to produce the much-needed returns? Do we have the technical know-how to differentiate what we are offering to what sponsors and potential sponsors, who in the medium to long-term should be partners, are looking for?
“What is the perception of spectators/supporters/fans over our product? Many are not willing to pay above market value. Football is still cheap just like other sports codes. The perception people have of the game is that it is just a past-time activity and not an industry or a business area.”