Super League of Malawi (Sulom) says it is revising the way gate collections from matches are shared in a bid to maximize profits for clubs which are complaining that they are being robbed by service providers who get a gargantuan share than the clubs. The issue came to the fore after the high-priced Blantyre derby between Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers glossed K4.4 million kwacha but, after giving service providers their entitlements, the clubs only got a paltry K800,000 each.
Wanderers general secretary David Kanyenda observed that the service providers were robbing clubs of their deserved revenue from gate collections, a trend he said was impoverishing the already financially-struggling clubs.
Kanyenda called for an overhaul of the system, particularly because some of the service providers have independent sources of funding to cover up for their administrative costs.
"Sulom gets funding from the league sponsors to run the league and, as such, it does not make sense for them to dip their fingers deeper into the gate collections. With this trend, clubs cannot improve the welfare of their players because they are operating at a loss through these unjustifiable
cuts," he said.
According to the Malawi National Council of Sports, the entitlements are as follows: Act 25 percent ground, Football Association of Malawi (Fam) 10 percent, Sulom 10 percent, Sports Council 5 percent.
Other overhead expenses paid from the gate collections before the clubs get their shares include cashiers, first aid, water bills, stewards, security officials (Malawi Police Service) and supporters' network.
Bullets General Secretary Higgar Mkandawire also echoed Kanyenda's sentiments, saying it does not make sense that four organs of the government should get money from game collections.
"Sports Council, Fam, cashiers and the ground (Kamuzu Stadium) all belong to government and they get funding for their activities. Why do they get shares from gate collections? The money we get at the end is far less than the money we spend during preparations. So, it is a very worrisome environment that clubs are operating in," he said.
Mkandawire also criticized Sulom for getting the 10 percent share saying they already get money from the sponsors and from registration fees.
"We pay them K450,000 as registration fees on top of what they get from the sponsors for the running of the league but they continue to get shares from the gate collections," he said.
Sulom general secretary Williams Banda defended Sulom saying running the league the whole season is very costly on their part and even the subvention they get is never enough.
"We have a permanent secretariat which has to be paid, we pay for referees, training seminars for stakeholders, meetings to settle disputes which sometimes involve lawyers.
"Expenses for just one referee are too much per game. Imagine referees coming from Blantyre to officiate a match in Nchalo get K18,000 each, Blantyre to Lilongwe K45,000 each, Blantyre to Mzuzu K81,000 each. Now add to that the fees for match commissioners. From this break down, calculate how many match officials are deployed within one weekend of matches and how much is spent, it's too much.
"The clubs should not just speak without understanding the expenses that Sulom incurs when running the league. What the clubs pay as registration fees is not enough to procure registration materials," he said.
He said some of the clubs still owe Sulom huge sums in arrears as they have not been remitting registration fees.
"We have a list of clubs who owe Sulom huge sums of money as part of registrations fees. We just leave them because we understand the financial hardships they are going through. We try as much to subsidise the registration so they should know that we are doing a lot to keep them afloat," he said.
He said Sulom would love to see the clubs register profits and that was why they were discussing with stakeholders to find a viable system for sharing the gate collections.
He observed that the process would take some time because it would involve changing the Act that establishes the Sports Council through Parliament.
Banda, however, said Sulom is coming up with a method to make sure that clubs do not spend too much paying off service providers by making sure that stakeholders are paid holistically other than as individuals.
"We are coming with a system whereby clubs will pay stakeholders holistically other than as individuals. For example, if Sulom has its men during a match they should not be paid as individuals but the money should be paid to Sulom who, in turn, should pay the men who were on duty. We believe that, that way, we can reduce the expenses paid by clubs after matches," he said.