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Debt haunts clubs

Clubs struggle to pay players, coaches

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Some TNM Super League clubs say they have been borrowing money to pay salaries to the players and coaching staff due to effects of Covid-19 pandemic.

The clubs have struggled to pay players and coaches since football was suspended in March this year.

Players from most of the TNM Super League clubs have gone four months without pay and are owed huge sums of money from their respective clubs.

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Out of the 16 TNM Super League teams, it is only Silver Strikers and Civo Service United that have not cut players month upkeep and allowances due to Covid-19.

Malawi Defence Force (MDF) teams and Blue Eagles players are paid as soldiers and police officers, respectively but the civilian players are also struggling.

Team such as TN Stars, Chitipa United, Karonga United, Mighty Tigers, Ekwendeni.

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United and Ntopwa have not paid players since March. So far the only solace is that Football Association of Malawi (Fam) is providing K40,000 monthly stipends to each registered player to cushion the

In an interview Sunday, Karonga United General Secretary Ramsey Simwaka admitted that the team owe the players about K7 million in monthly upkeep.

“We agreed with the players that once football resumes we will only pay half of their arrears because we cannot afford to pay them in full. It is a real struggle for the clubs but hopefully, we will get out of the situation,” Simwaka said.

Karonga United just like many teams in the country are not sponsored and rely on well-wishers. Apart from getting assistance from well-wishers, the clubs also supplement their budget with gate revenue money.

Ntopwa owner, Isaac ‘Jomo’ Osman said he could not reveal how much they have borrowed from well-wishers to keep the team alive.

“That is a private issue and we cannot disclose how much we have borrowed during this pandemic. You should appreciate that most teams make money when the season starts because we rely on gate collections. As the case now some of us will be in huge debts if the pandemic continues. Nevertheless, we thank Fam for supporting teams through the monthly stipends,” he said.

Similarly, Tigers chairperson Sydney Chikoti said they were surviving on Fam’s relief package to avoid going into debt.

“We did not promise the moon our players. It is the directors who support the team so we are living within our means. Furthermore, we are happy with the monthly stipend which Fam is giving Super League teams,” he said.

On his part, Chitipa United team manager, Watson Kawaye said his club was not panicking over the debts.

“We thank our players for understanding us since March because we had no money to pay them. We expect to raise money through the sale of the replica kits so that we pay the players their arrears,” he added.

Chitipa United have purchased a team bus valued at K6.4 million. Clubs such as TN Stars owe players over K4 million in monthly wages as they have gone more than five months without pay. The club registered a squad of 25 players and five officials for the 2020 season.

Be Forward Wanderers were the first club to cut players salary after their sponsors-Be Forward Company Limited announced 50 percent sponsorship cut. Nyasa Big Bullets also followed suit as they deducted K40,000 from each player. Football faces uncertainity in the country as government is yet to approve the resumption of the game.

Fam set aside K380 million from Fifa funds to help clubs due to effects of Covid-19 pandemic. Registered players from all 16 Super League teams, officials and referees pocket K40,000 as monthly stipends.

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