Super League clubs could be excluded from the Presidential Cup after authorities confirmed that the tournament’s review meeting will discuss on whether or not to maintain their participation.
Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) executive secretary George Jana said the review will also come up with a new format for the tournament that has run from 2008.
Backers of Super League clubs’ exclusion argue that the competition’s priority should be to improve football through unearthing talent from the grass roots therefore top clubs’ participation is pointless.
Meanwhile, Jana said they have heard about such proposals while adding that the organising committee will brainstorm during the review.
“What I can confirm right now is that the format is going to change. Again, the issue of involvement of Super League teams will be discussed and decided at the meeting which will be held soon,” he said.
But the Sports Council executive secretary could not be drawn to reveal why they are changing the format.
“After the review we will tell the nation why there are changes and we will explain if we are on track in achieving our objectives,” he said.
Jana also disclosed that the tournament will be organised starting from January next year.
It was not staged this year after the K60 million ($107,142) Parliament allocated to the competition in the 2014/15 National Budget was diverted to the national football team.
“The funds allocated in the ongoing budget will not be diverted again. The tournament is on,” Jana said.
Meanwhile, Football Association of Malawi (FAM), implementer of the competition, said it is not aware that a new format will be enforced in the upcoming edition.
“This far, we have not received any communication related to that,” FAM general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda said. “But I think we will be told at some point.”
But soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda said it will be unfortunate if Super League teams are barred from participating in the Presidential Cup.
“The objective is to unearth talent from the grass roots, but if they are unearthed where do you take them to? It is to the same top clubs,” he argued.
“It is, therefore, imperative to empower the top teams by keeping them in the competition.”
In the meantime, Nyirenda says the Presidential Initiative on Sports (PIS), which funds a range of presidential competitions across the country, has achieved some of its objectives.
“It has promoted sports culture and also helped sports administrators in the rural areas to gain experience in organisation of tournaments. These are crucial objectives,” he stated.
In the current format, Presidential Football Cup starts with preliminary phase, play-offs stage and national phase where Super League teams join in.
The winners pocket K10 million while the runners-up receive K5 million. Other prizes go to districts and regions champions. n