So this is it. Sulom has spurned Youth Development and Sports Minister Symon Vuwa-Kaundaâ€™s order to reduce club affiliation and registration fees from K450 000 (about $2 700) to K100 000 (about $598), arguing that it is unrealistic.
Vuwa-Kaunda and some of the clubs on Tuesday described the development as unfortunate, considering the financial hardships most of the clubs are facing.
Sulom treasurer Tiya Somba-Banda said the proposal was a nonstarter regarding the use of the money.
Said Somba-Banda: “After going through the proposal made by the ministry, we felt it could not be possible because that money helps the league to meet some administrative costs such as paying the referees who are also considering to raise the officiation fees.”
But the minister and the clubs argued that administration fees is supposed to be covered in the sponsorship package.
Said Vuwa-Kaunda: “It is not the business of the clubs, that are already struggling financially, to contribute towards a sponsored league. Sulom was supposed to negotiate with the sponsors (TNM) to cater for the costs of officiation and other administrative issues.”
He stressed that government will continue to advance the matter on behalf of the clubs.
“This should not be seen as government interference because our duty is to formulate policy and that is precisely what we are doing,” he said.
Wanderers general secretary David Kanyenda, Bullets vice-general secretary Higger Mkandawire and Escom United chairperson Fanuel Nkhono concurred with the minister.
Said Kanyenda: “There is need for Sulom to reduce the affiliation and registration fees because most of the teams are struggling financially.
“It is an issue that needs to be tackled soberly by all the stakeholders. We want to seek views from other clubs and then we are going to lobby [for the reduction] as a unit. Because one thing that has to be borne in mind is that you cannot have the league without the clubs.”
Mkandawire said Sulom should have negotiated for the inclusion of refereesâ€™ fees in the prospective sponsorship deal while Nkhono argued that in other neighbouring national leagues, teams do not pay for refereesâ€™ fees.
But Somba-Banda argued that by the time the issue was being raised, negotiations for renewal of sponsorship were already at an advanced stage.
Clubs pay Sulom K300 000 (about $1 796) each as affiliation fees and K150 000 (about $898) for player registration. Sulom deducts the money from the K1 million subvention each team receives.
â€”Government directed that the ban imposed on Mighty Wanderers on the use of Kamuzu Stadium in Standard Bank Cup games should be lifted.
â€”A few months later, government ordered that Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers should not pay fines for the damages their fans caused at Kamuzu Stadium.
â€”Government also ordered that in the Presidential Cup fans should not be paying entry fee at district and regional levels and the finals while in games involving Super League teams, fans should pay half the charges.