Super League of Malawi (Sulom) general secretary Williams Banda intimated in the media this week that Football Association of Malawi (Fam) was being too harsh in suspending football teams that failed to comply with the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Club Licensing preliminary requirements.
Banda prefers that instead of taking such a harsh stand Fam should have first of all set proper guidelines for teams to follow as a reminder.
But I ask, what more reminders do these teams need? The reminders were made over one and a half years ago that Caf requires that teams need to have stadia, proper secretariats, management personnel, medical insurance cover, audited bank accounts, qualified coaches and several other conditions.
These conditions were set by Caf in order for African teams to be more professional so that they can ably participate in Caf tournaments and compete favourably.
These conditions are straight forward to understand but the Sulom general secretary tells us that “some of the teams take time to understand things”. Oh, really!!!!! That statement, in my opinion, is an insult to some of the officials that administer these clubs.
From my observation, our clubs are run by officials who are quite intelligent and are conversant with complying on football issues and one of them is the Club Licensing System. What I know is that some of the teams are failing to comply because it’s almost a tall order for them to meet all the requirements.
Clubs with stadia in the country are Silver Strikers and Civo United. Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers have over the years been using the government-owned venue Kamuzu Stadium as their home ground.
Because most of the clubs don’t have stadia, they fail to acquire their own offices let alone be able to pay for management personnel. Having medical insurance covers is one other issue teams fail to comply because they fail to manage their finances.
They fail to manage their finances and thus it is difficult for the teams to have audited bank accounts. The teams rely on the mother governing body Fam to finance our coaches to upgrade themselves.
Our football is in such quandary because it is riddled with fraud. The gate takings are easy pickings for the officials and fans instead of going into the club coffers first where it could be properly accounted for before disbursing to rightful recipients.
Sulom should take the blame here rather than Fam because as the league governing body, it should have been the one to remind the teams of the requirements. Fam is just carrying out what it already told the clubs to do long way back.
The teams, or Sulom, should have been updating Fam on how far they had gone with fulfilling the requirements and where — if necessary — could the mother governing body could intervene and assist.
The past administrators did not do our football much good in terms of making sure that the clubs had their own stadia, that they had proper secretariats, management personnel, medical insurance cover, audited bank accounts and qualified coaches.
The past management of teams like Big Bullets, Mighty Wanderers and Tigers should have made sure that they acquired stadia when they had the opportunity where they were well sponsored.
The Malawi Defence Force should have kept one team as their flagship and in this case Red Lions and the funds they use to run other teams like Moyale, Mafco, Kamuzu Barracks, Airborne Rangers could have been channelled towards constructing a proper stadium for the flagship team. The rest could have just had been their nursery teams.
If the past administrators had the foresight like this we could not have seen the demise of teams such as Hardware Stars, MDC United and Sucoma. If they had had the stadia, they could have been able to sustain themselves through gate takings and advertising rights.
If the teams had been able to meet the requirements which Caf is now asking to be met under Club Licensing System, our football should have attracted sponsors and could have instilled confidence in the supporters, who could have supported their teams in any fund-raising initiative.
The clubs should have had proper club houses for the supporters to patronise to raise more revenue for the teams.
Gate management should have been done so professionally that the money should have been banked first before disbursing it out instead of the village way things are done where the money is shared first right after the match and that by following day, there is completely nothing to pay the players for their sweat.
We have a very supportive sponsor — TNM — who offers other avenues of raising funds through Sapota Mapeto promotion, which can generate millions of kwachas if the fans were unanimous in supporting it.
It’s time our clubs met the conditions set by Caf so that our football can be professional and become so competitive that they clubs can afford to participate in Caf international club championship.
The conditions are not easy to meet but Fam has to start somewhere to enforce it by punishing those that are failing to do it. Instead of castigating Fam by saying the mother governing body is being too harsh, Sulom should have been supportive.