TNM plc, sponsors of the Super League, have expressed intent to continue bankrolling the domestic top-flight football league beyond 2020.
The integrated mobile network and ICT services provider has one more season before its three-year K90 million sponsorship deal expires.
However, some of the flagship football league clubs have asked Super League of Malawi (Sulom) to be cautious and set conditions for sponsorship extension, in particular the package.
Confirming the development in an interview on Wednesday, Sulom president Tiya Somba Banda said: “ We will be commencing contract negotiations anytime soon as TNM has officially expressed interest to continue with the sponsorship.”
However, TNM brand and communication manager Limbani Nsapato asked for more time to follow up on the matter as he “had been out of office for a while”.
But some clubs interviewed during the week said if TNM wants to extend its romance with the league, then it has to consider a significant increase of the sponsorship package.
Nyasa Big Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said: “If TNM wants to extend the contract, then they have to review the sponsorship package, especially the prize money.
“Seriously in this day and age, K15 million prize for the league winners is, by far, on the lower side. We are certainly not moving with the times.
“We are not saying they [TNM] can reach our expectations, but let them come up with something satisfactory because as it stands, it is very discouraging.”
He also said the K1 million club subvention has been stagnant for a long time and needs to be reviewed.
“Sulom should not be excited with the intention for sponsorship extension. They should have the bargaining power and not be at the receiving end. Already, they are struggling to pay referees and those are issues they should consider when negotiating for new sponsorship be it with the current sponsor or a prospective new one,” said Chigoga.
He said his team spends over K100 million on league matches in a season and a K15 million prize and K1 million subvention is not enough.
Silver Strikers acting general secretary Innocent Kadam’manja also said they are looking forward to an improved package.
“I am sure Sulom has learnt its lessons over the years and they will negotiate for a satisfactory package. The prizes and subventions are much on the lower side compared to what teams spend to fulfil 30 league fixtures. For us, as Silver, we spend over K150 million. So, Sulom needs to set realistic conditions for the sponsorship.
“Another area that can also be looked into is equipment. Maybe TNM can also consider factoring in football boots,” he said.
Karonga United chairperson Alufeyo Chipanga Banda said: “TNM are getting a big mileage from the sponsorship and yet the clubs are not benefiting anything.
“As a club, we spend about K86 million, fighting for K15 million. That is unfair. Sulom should not just rush into committing to the new sponsorship. They need to raise the bar.
“If TNM cannot significantly raise the sponsorship, they [Sulom] can approach me and I can introduce them to a prospective sponsor who is willing to invest a fortune so that it must be a win-win situation,” he said.
Reacting to the clubs’ concerns, Somba Banda said: “Oh yes, the football sponsorship matrix has evolved since the time the current contract was signed.”
“It is in both parties interests to be in line with the current football sponsorship trends. We are pretty certain that we will have a package that is in the best interest of all stakeholders,” said the Sulom boss.
Football analyst George Kaudza Masina said: “That TNM has expressed an intention to continue sponsoring the league is commendable, but there is need to exercise caution.
“Technically, the sponsorship has been a raw deal as it has not been beneficial to the teams. As sponsors, TNM have gained mileage and profited from the sponsorship, but the same cannot be said of the clubs who, in essence, are there just to promote the interests of TNM.”
He said if TNM are to continue, the sponsorship needs to be reviewed.
“That is if there are no other credible potential sponsors waiting in the wings. Otherwise, our football and players in particular, will remain miserable despite putting everything into the game. Management of Sulom needs to start thinking outside the box and start treating football as a business,” said Masina.
Super League champions get K15 million as prize money over 30 matches while Airtel Top 8 winners cart home the same amount over four matches. Fisd Challenge Cup champions get K20 million after playing about six to seven matches while the yet-to-be-launched FDH Cup winners will be getting K25 million after playing about eight to 10 matches. n\