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Clubs bitter with secrecy over TV rights deal

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By Mabvuto Kambuwe

Silver Strikers and Nyasa Big Bullets have faulted Super League of Malawi (Sulom) and Football Association of Malawi (Fam) for concealing details of the new Television Rights deal.

Fam awarded contracts to Mibawa Studios as content producer and Zuku Television as the live football broadcaster for all domestic matches.

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However, Silver and Bullets, who are among stakeholders, said the league governing body and Fam lacked transparency in the new deal.

Details have also emerged that other clubs are planning to join Silver and Bullets in questioning the deal.

In addition, some clubs are planning to engage Sulom to call for an emergency meeting, where they want the league governing body to unpack details on the contracts.

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A statement from Silver released yesterday said the club wanted full details of the deal.

“We demand full disclosure of the detailed contents (which include distribution mode of the same and the guaranteed minimum revenue for each as is the standard globally) of the newly signed TV rights deal and how it would benefit football clubs,” reads the statement reads.

“We also demand that the clubs have to be presented with a minimum of three prospects and the clubs, as owners of commercial audio-visuals rights, should deliberate and unanimously agree on the proposal to be adopted by Fam/Sulom.”

Nyasa Big Bullets Chief Administrator Albert Chigoga said it was unfortunate that Sulom and Fam had not been transparent.

“There is lack of transparency in the manner the broadcasting rights are being handled. The position of Bullets has always been prepaid arrangement. We have voiced our concerns through the right channel to no avail,” Chigoga said.

Chigoga felt clubs as stakeholders were being left in the darkness.

“Agreements have been signed and discontinued without consulting the clubs as key stakeholders. Honestly, this is appalling to say the least,” he said.

This also comes as the battle between Fam and Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) over the deal rages on.

Fam General Secretary Alfred Gunda was reluctant to comment on the matter saying he had only seen the letter on social media.

The league’s president Tiya Somba-Banda said Fam and clubs own the rights while Sulom were a second party.

“We have just seen this on the social media. However, there is nothing different from what we discussed and agreed with the clubs in Salima at the inception of the project.

“Just a recap to put things in perspective, the broadcasting rights of the League or FA-organised competitions belong solely to the organisers, just as the way Caf owns the rights to Afcon (the National teams do not own the rights of Afcon),” he said.

Fam signed a new deal with Mibawa Studios, Simbanet and Zuku Television worth K350 million per year after a botched deal between the association and Malawi Digital Broadcasting Network Limited.

At the unveiling ceremony in Blantyre, Fam President Walter Nyamilandu announced that the clubs would be getting 80 percent of the proceeds.

Fam and Sulom, who are football rights owners, moved away from the Free to Air arrangement and set up a dedicated Mpira TV channel in a bid to generate revenue.

Over the years, TV deals have never worked in domestic football.

The deal between Fam and Malawi Broadcasting Network Limited flopped after another deal involving Sulom and Beta TV also flopped.

Then, clubs were promised to share equally 80 percent of the K266 million whereas 20 percent was earmarked for Sulom.

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