TNM Super League clubs have failed to clinch shirt sponsorship deals with just a month before the 2022 TNM Super League season kicks off.
This follows a Super League of Malawi (Sulom) and TNM agreement that starting from the 2022 season, the sponsors will no longer hold exclusive shirts rights, thereby stopping supplying equipment to the clubs.
Though touted as the biggest revenue earner for clubs at international level, none of the 16 Super League clubs have secured shirt sponsors, citing several challenges.
New-entrants, the 2021 Simso Northern Region Football League champions Rumphi United, said they have given up on securing a shirt sponsor.
The club’s general secretary Jones Mocton said their efforts to convince a corporate to be their shirt sponsors have not yielded results.
He said: “As it is, we remain with no choice but to do it ourselves.”
Kasungu-based TN Stars have also given up hope of getting a shirt sponsor, according the general secretary Bester Ngwale.
“We don’t even have a proper sponsor,” he said.
Mzimba-based Ekwendeni Hammers said they have exhausted their efforts to convince companies to be their shirt sponsors.
While clubs without sponsorship are failing to get shirt sponsors and will likely do it themselves, those with sponsors will also be responsible for theirs.
Reserve Bank-owned Silver Strikers chief executive officer Thokozani Chimbali said they would buy their uniform.
So too, Nyasa Big Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga whose club is owned by Nyasa Manufacturing Company.
He said: “Remember, we have been using our own uniform. So, Nyasa Manufacturing Company, as owners of the club, will continue providing the uniform while the club is searching for shirt sponsors.”
Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda felt the situation has put less advantaged teams in a fix.
He said: “Of course, we all agree that shirt sponsorship is the biggest earner at clubs such as Manchester United, Barcelona and the other big clubs.
“But are we sure Malawian clubs have reached that level of attracting shirt sponsors? Mind you, these clubs have failed to even secure general sponsors.”
Nyirenda said Sulom and TNM should have allowed clubs to engage shirt sponsors while still providing equipment to those that cannot manage to do so.
He said: “They shouldn’t have stopped immediately. This change should have been gradual. Clubs without sponsors were benefitting from the TNM equipment.”
But Sulom general secretary Williams Banda said it was time the teams explored such means of revenue generation.
He said the decision to have clubs own shirt rights and engage their own equipment sponsors was based on a resolution at a Sulom annual general meeting held last year.
Banda said: “This is what the clubs wanted. We simply implemented their demands. For a long time clubs have been looking forward to owning shirt rights.”
Shirt sponsorship allows clubs to have advertisers on the jerseys in return for providing funds to help them buy essential assets such as team kits, equipment, training facilities and pay for travel expenses.
According to Fifa shirt advertising regulations, the chest is for the club’s shirt sponsors, while the league logo designated position is the left or right sleeve depending on the contract with the league.
Selling advertising space on football jerseys has become highly lucrative and contributes up to a third of top clubs, according to The Economist.
For example, having signed a lucrative seven-year deal with Chevrolet before the 2014-15 season, Premiership giants Manchester United’s revenue from kit sponsorships reached £64 million in the 2019/20 season.
The deal is worth £19 million more than the agreement between Etihad and cross-city rivals, Manchester City.