Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has proposed an increase in ticket prices and a reduction in the capacity of stadiums as part of measures to counter the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic once football resumes.
The proposals are contained in a report the soccer governing body presented during its meeting with the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Francis Phiso in Lilongwe on Monday.
Dubbed Football Restart Roadmap, the proposal is designed to seek clearance from government to resume football in August this year.
The 2020 football season kick-off was postponed in March after President Peter Mutharika declared coronavirus a disaster and announced precautionary measures, including social distancing which restricts public gatherings to a maximum of 100.
In a statement, FAM said after the meeting, a working committee comprising sports ministry officials and medical experts will examine the preventive measures proposed by FAM before football resumes in August.
“The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the Malawi National Council of Sports were satisfied with the plan of action and the strides that have been made so far by FAM to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic,” reads in part the statement from FAM.
“As a way forward, a working meeting has been organised this weekend with the Sports Ministry and medical experts to examine the Covid-19 safety measures that have been put in place.”
FAM said it believes that reducing stadium capacity will ensure that venues are not congested, thereby taming the spread of the pandemic.
“Stadium capacity will be reduced by half to ensure social distancing,” the report reads in part.
The reduction is likely to affect gate revenue, a key income generation avenue.
However, FAM said that would be offset by raising ticket prices.
“Match access tickets fees will be adjusted upwards as a control and to offset the revenue loss through reduced stadium capacity,” the statement further reads.
Other measures include advance ticket sales with no option for the same on match day at the gates and tightening of security to ensure enforcement of preventative measures.
FAM has also announced that gates will be opened early to reduce congestion and that stadiums that do not have capacity to enforce coronavirus measures will not host matches.
In an interview yesterday, FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda said the proposals will be discussed during consultative meetings they will hold with various stakeholders.
“We will engage various stakeholders at the value chain of the game. Thereafter, we will come up with final resolutions,” he said.
Gunda also said they have not fixed the new prices, saying a concrete decision will be made after consultations.
In an interview yesterday, Phiso confirmed the meeting, but said the ministry will assess the proposal.
He said: “I have received the proposal but the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and Sports Council will look at the proposal.
“What FAM has done is to start the process. I would like to urge fans to be patient.”
Meanwhile, Be Forward Wanderers general secretary Victor Maunde has opposed the proposal to raise the gate charges.
“We don’t have any problem reducing the stadium capacity. However, we don’t support raising the charges. It will put off most supporters, most of whom, are suffering economically due to effects of coronavirus,” he said.
Commenting on the proposals, Silver Strikers supporters committee chairperson Kingsley Malaya urged FAM to consult supporters.