Fifa’s recommendation for the removal of the tattered artificial turf at Kamuzu Stadium has caused a distress among Blantyre-based TNM Super League teams that use the facility as home ground.
Super League of Malawi (Sulom) treasurer Tiya Somba-Banda’s suggestion that the development would mean that next season, Big Bullets, Mighty Be Forward Wanderers, Azam Tigers and Fisd Wizards will have to make do with Kalulu Stadium in Nchalo, Balaka Stadium and Zomba Community Centre ground as their home grounds has even aggravated the pain.
The recommended eight-year lifespan of the astro-turf, installed in March 2008, is almost over and Fifa would like the pitch, which hosts major international games for the Flames, to be of international standard.
“Blantyre cannot afford to have no stadium unless we want to turn our youths into hooligans. What are people going to do during weekends? I am confident the government will deal with this issue with maximum speed,” said Wanderers general secretary Mike Butao.
“Playing outside Blantyre would not even guarantee half the revenue we get at the stadium. How are we going to survive? Football is expensive to run; both sponsored and unsponsored teams rely on match-day revenues at the facility to make ends meet. Is there going to be a compensation package during the time the stadium will be out of use?”
Bullets vice-general secretary Kelvin Moyo said: “The news is devastating to us financially because this means we will be required to cough more money to fulfil our home fixtures. It will be the same as playing away in all our league matches.”
While agreeing with Moyo, Azam Tigers technical director Robin Alufandika urged Football Association of Malawi (FAM) to quickly renovate the BAT Ground so that the clubs can have a pitch that can help them to cut expenses.
But Fisd Wizards technical director Peter Mponda said the absence of a competitive match venue in the commercial city will not affect them much because they enjoy support anywhere they go and are financially able to foot the bills.
In spite of that, the clubs said the long-term solution to their woes is to join hands and construct own stadium in Blantyre so that they can as well maximise their gate revenue.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said in the absence of communication from government on its plans to either demolish or refurbish the stadium, their hands are tied on whether to negotiate for another artficial turf from Fifa.
Minister of Youth Development and Sports Grace Chiumia said they will wait for a report from stadium management and FAM before determining the way forward.
Asked on progress on the suggestions to either rehabilitate or demolish the stadium, the minister said: “Consultations are still ongoing and the public will be informed at an appropriate time.”