Financial problems and inadequate preparations are among most TNM Super League teams concerns as the season is set to kick off next week.
In interviews with Nation on Sunday some teams said Football Association of Malawi’s (FAM) K10 million Covid-19 bailout package is not enough as the games will be played behind closed doors.
Nine of the 16 TNM Super League teams—newly promoted Ekwendeni Hammers, Chitipa United, Karonga United, Mzuzu Warriors (formerly Mzuni FC), TN Stars, Be Forward Wanderers, Tigers FC and Ntopwa FC—have said the going will be tough.
Eight of the teams are yet to secure sound sponsorship while Wanderers’ sponsorship from Japanese conditioned car dealers, Be Forward, is running out next month.
Soccer analysts have attributed the situation to a lack of seriousness on the part of people running football in the country, saying they have failed to put in place measures to attract companies to sponsor teams.
In an interview, Ekwendeni Hammers general secretary Dyson Sikwese said they rely on individuals to fund the team’s operations.
He said: “As I am talking to you, apart from what we obtained from FAM as relief for Covid-19, we had nothing in the team’s account. All along we have been relying on individuals.
“But with the Covid-19, the challenge has worsened and it will be hard to operate the team in the top-flight league if the situation remains the same.”
Karonga United general secretary Ramzy Simwaka said it is sad that they have no sponsor despite writing companies for support.
“We have lined up a number of fundraising activities to secure
something for the running of the club in the 2020/21 season otherwisewe still have no sound sponsor. Hence, it will be the same storythat we will finish the league at God’s mercy,” he said.
Chitipa United vice-general secretary Marshal Mwenechanya said they are still asking companies to consider sponsoring the club.
“Our operation cost is very high as every game to us is away. The K10 million we got from FAM is just enough for three trips. A message to all is that the door is open even to those who can manage giving the club a minimum of K1.5 million per month. Chitipa feels that can make a difference at the club in the 2020/21 season,” he said.
Mzuzu Warriors general secretary Donnex Chilongo said the team has no sponsor and they foresee a difficult time if the situation remains the same.
On the other hand, Ntopwa FC technical director and owner, Isaac ‘Jomo’ Osman fears tough times ahead.
He said: “I have already made it public that the businesses that were providing me with funds to assist the team have been affected. Of course, FAM has given us a start-up, but that is very little to run the team for the entire season.
“This is giving me headache. Obviously, it will be hard to sustain the team this season due to financial challenges.”
Wanderers executive committee chairperson Symon Sikwese said the team is going through financial problems.
“Everyone is aware of the financial shortfalls we are in. Just like other teams, we got the push package from FAM. However, we are a big team and the package is below our budget. That is why as a newmanagement we are working day and night so that we should work on theproblem as the league kicks off,” he said.
Tigers FC technical director Robin Alufandika said it would have been better if FAM’s relief package was K30 million for each team because their budget is at K80 million.
On his part, TN Stars chief executive officer Kalio Nyirenda wondered why teams are not supported by government when national team players come from them.
“The issues of finances to us are not yet over. We still have no sound sponsorship. I am not seeing this problem coming to an end soon if other stakeholders cannot help teams that do not have sponsorship,” he said.
Commenting on the matter, soccer analyst George Chiusiwa said teams’ financial problems would not be there if Super League of Malawi (Sulom) and FAM had provided conducive environment that inspires companies to sponsor teams.
“It is worrisome to see that associations running football in the country are failing to support teams to secure sponsorship,” he said.
On his part, soccer analyst Kelvin Moyo said there is need to turn to other sources of generating income.
“We have been talking of broadening revenue base for teams that is yet to be fully exploited. Currently, our gate charges are low, teams would also earn a lot from broadcasting rights. That is not happening.Then what should we expect? Same cry from the teams,” he said.
Reacting to the matter, Sulom vice-general secretary Zachariah
Nyirenda said teams should brainstorm on best ways to deal with the situation.
“Issues of financial constraints have been there. Covid-19 has just worsened the situation. However, we need to find the solutions together and move on. The sad thing would be to keep on waiting for the league to start. It is important that we should live by the situation.” he said.
In an interview, FAM competitions and media director Gomezgani Zakazaka said the association understands the situation that is why it has offered K10 million to each team to help in the restart project while they are also working on other revenue ventures.
“Apart from provision of K10 million subsidy package to each team, we are working on establishing a pay TV so that we should realise extra funds for the teams so that they should operate comfortably in the coming seasons,” he said.
Due to financial challenges, some teams in the previous seasons forfeited matches.
Two years ago, relegated Dwangwa United wanted to withdraw from the TNM Super League due to accumulation of players’ salaries and allowances.
It was the same case with Mlatho Mponela and Masters Security were relegated last season.