Clubs debate on fixtures
The scheduling of TNM Super League games has sparked debate as some teams and pundits fear that it might compromise the title and relegation races.
There are also fears that the poor scheduling of the fixtures is affecting gate collections.
Questions have been raised after Nyasa Big Bullets narrowed Be Forward Wanderers’ lead at the top of the table to just a point following a 2-0 win over Azam Tigers on Thursday.
Bullets have 57 points from 26 games, at par in the number of games with third-placed Silver Strikers, who have 51 points.
Elsewhere, teams play the same number of games every weekend, more so when the race is hot as is the case in Malawi.
Wanderers Vice-General Secretary, Chris Kananji, said they were baffled that their fellow title contenders were allowed to play more games.
“Of course, our current stand as Wanderers is that we should no longer comment on this thing because it doesn’t make any sense to give others more games when the title race is hot.
“They could have leveled the playing field by allowing us to play at the same time so that other factors should not come in to influence results,” Kananji said.
Bullets interim General Secretary, Albert Chigoga, yesterday said they were equally affected by the crammed fixtures, and dismissed talk that Sulom is favouring the People’s Team. “We are equally concerned because we played on Sunday in the Fisd Challenge Cup semi-final, then on Thursday, and we also have to face Silver this Sunday [tomorrow]. Chiukepo Msowoya got injured due to the crammed fixtures. The onus is on Sulom to see to it that fixtures are done properly,” Chigoga said.
Silver Team Manager, Francis Songo, Friday said the bigger issue is not about the teams that are chasing the championship, but ensuring that there is harmony of fixtures.
“Why didn’t people ask about the fixtures when the first-round was starting? My fear is that we are looking at a tiny picture instead of doing it wholesomely.
“The best way to go about it is not to concentrate on the interest of individual teams, but sitting down to see how best we can do fixtures for the whole season as is the case elsewhere,” Songo said.
There are also concerns that the fixtures are affecting gate revenue after a game involving Blantyre United and Kamuzu Barracks grossed K62,700, with each team pocketing K1,500.
United and Blue Eagles also got K3,300 each following their game which grossed K22,500 in Lilongwe over the weekend.
United Corporate Affairs and Administration Manager, Anthony Kafuwa, blamed the poor gate collections on what he termed as illogical scheduling of the games.
“The way the games are being fixed is not fair. We cannot make money if big teams are playing close by. It is not unfair on our part to play in the same city when either Bullets or Wanderers are playing.
“If we play either at Mulanje or Chilomoni when Bullets or Wanderers are not within [the city], we make over K200,000. The only time we were able to make a record K1.1 million was when we met Bullets.
“We would like to ask Sulom to fix games bearing in mind that some of teams, like us, do not have sponsors. So, they shouldn’t be fixing games close to where giants are meeting because this compromises gate collections,” Kafuwa said.
Premier Bet Wizards General Secretary, Harold Dzuwa, accused Sulom of fixing games without taking heed of stakeholders’ concerns.
“There are fears that what they are doing can lead to match-fixing for teams chasing the championship and those trying to dodge relegation. On issues regarding gate collections, it is disheartening that, sometimes, we fight for supporters against big teams whenever we have a game in the same city when giants are playing,” Dzuwa said.
Sulom General Secretary, Williams Banda, said they, too, would love to have fixtures released for the whole season but the challenge was lack of match venues.
“On the onset, teams demanded fixtures for the whole second-round, which we did. We also incorporated Fisd Challenge Cup and national team engagements.
“I do not think there is a big gap, but the only drawback was caused by the failure of the game between Wanderers and Mzuni. We have tried to ensure that teams play the same number of games but there are challenges,” Banda said.
On TNM’s WhatsApp group, Sulom Treasurer, Tiya Somba-Banda, said: “[In the] first-round, we are accused of picking fixtures and the demand was that we should publish the whole second-round fixtures in advance. We did just that and now we are being asked to go back again and start picking fixtures to suit the two teams. Do we see such things in EPL or other leagues?”
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