The framers of the TNM Super League rules and regulations left gaping holes as the document has no guidelines on how to deal with a team that withdraws from the league.
For the first time in the history of the Super League, a club—Max Bullets—withdrew after being fined K1 million for a fracas that led to the abandonment of their match against Epac FC at Civo Stadium on October 8.
The club’s owner Max Kapanda challenged Sulom that he would not pay the fine and disbanded his team without compensating the players who have since lodged a complaint with the Blantyre Labour Office.
To date, neither Football Association of Malawi (FAM) nor Sulom has taken action against Max Bullets for dumping the league unceremoniously.
Other Cosafa region leagues’ regulations are clear on procedures for withdrawing from such competitions.
Most of them demand at least a two-month notice before the season kicks off and impose hefty fines for those that leave mid-season.
Sulom general secretary Williams Banda said the Super League rules and regulations only explain what should happen to the points accumulated from the team that has withdrawn.
Article 14 sub-section 7 of the rules and regulations states that if a team disbands during the first round, all points that were accumulated by playing that disbanded team should be deducted. But sub-section 8 says if a team pulls out in the second round, then all remaining teams should get three points and two goals.
“There is nothing on what sanctions should be imposed on the club. This is one of the things that we are considering when we come up with proposed amendments to the rules and regulations. We need to ensure that clubs participating in the league sign an agreement that they are going to fulfil all fixtures and that if they don’t they will be liable to sanctions. Otherwise, like it is the case now a team can dump the league anyhow which puts football into disrepute,” he said.
However, even in the case of such an agreement, Sulom is powerless since a team that dumps the league is practically no longer under their jurisdiction.
“This is where we need FAM to exercise its authority as a body mandated to oversee football in the country. Like in the case of Max Bullets, it is only FAM that can exercise its powers and impose some sanctions on Max [Kapanda] for his actions,” he said.
Max Bullets’ withdrawal caused uproar as clubs cried foul over lost revenue from the games they could have played against the Chiradzulu-based outfit.
The sharing of points from the remaining matches also irked some clubs that had been drawn with Max Bullets in the first round such as Karonga United and Azam Tigers who argued that it would have been fair to deduct all points from Max Bullets games.
FAM club licensing manager Casper Jangale said they were aware of the shortfalls in the league rules and regulations on teams that withdraw.
He said: “This is where club licensing can help to stop such things from happening again. There is a book of sanctions and we have just been reviewing it. That is why we have felt the need to introduce a refundable K1 million to be deposited by clubs at the beginning of the season as a commitment to fulfil all fixtures. Club licensing regulations are binding as they are covered in the statutes of FAM. They will also sign legal declaration accepting to adhere to Fifa, CAF and FAM statutes.”
Football analyst Charles Nyirenda observed that the structure of Malawi football was responsible for Max Bullets escaping without sanctions.
He said: “By its nature Sulom are league runners by virtue of a being FAM affiliate. The problem is that their jurisdiction ends once a team is no longer participating in the league. That is why it was even difficult for Sulom to reinforce the fine that was imposed on Max Bullets for abandonment of the game.
“In other countries it is easy to deal with such situations because the national league is run by the mother-body under the competitions department. So if you defy the league, you have directly defied the FA rules and you have to face the song and possible face a life ban from football.” n\