Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers supporters committees are set to meet today to ask the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 to soften up on barring spectators from football matches.
The meeting comes in the countdown to the latest episode of the most sought-after fixture—the Blantyre derby slated for May 1.
Nomads supporters committee chairperson Mervin Nkunika and the People’s Team supporters committee secretary Mabvuto Chibambo confirmed the development yesterday.
Said Nkunika: “The meeting is more about strategising for the match, but high on the agenda will be to ask the Presidential Task Force to consider allowing fans since the Covid-19 positivity rate has dropped significantly.
“The Minister of Health [Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda] is on record as having said that the restriction rules would be relaxed if the positivity rate drops to five percent and now it is at less than two percent.
“So, our humble plea is that they should consider opening up with strict adherence to prevention guidelines such as controlled capacity, wearing of masks and physical distancing.”
The Nomads supporters committee chairperson also said playing without spectators has taken a toll on the teams financially.
“The little we make from gate revenue gives us a push in terms of game bonuses and there is no match that generates a lot of revenue than the Blantyre derby,” he said.
Nkunika and Chibambo also said it will be a challenge to prevent fans from turning up for such a high-profile match.
“In the other fixtures, it has been easy to convince our fans to stay away, but with the derby it will be a big challenge and even security will be overwhelmed.
“So, these are some of the issues that we want to discuss,” said Nkunika.
On his part, Chibambo said: “In other sectors such as political rallies, people are gatheringfreely without even observing the Covid-19 prevention measures, but no action has been taken, but when it comes to football it is a different story.
“So, what we are saying is that let the Presidential Task Force use the Blantyre derby as a trial to see if the guidelines will be adhered to.
“Honourable Chiponda said they would consider relaxing the restrictions when positivity rate drops to less than five percent and now we are way below that.
“Clubs have been hit hard by the current situation, they are struggling to pay their players. There are also small-scaled businesspersons who benefit from selling their products at football matches and all this needs to be taken into consideration by the authorities.”
Super League of Malawi president Tiya Somba-Banda yesterday declined to comment on the issue.
Chiponda was not available for comment yesterday, but she told The Nation a week ago that restrictions on sports would be reviewed at the task force’s meeting last Thursday.
Spectators were barred from watching games in December last year—barely a month after football resumption—following a decision by the Presidential Task Force to restrict public gathering to 100 people.
The number was trimmed further to 50 in January this year.