Sports

Divisive stadiums

Big Bullets could have two match venues

Former Nyasa Big Bullets officials have warned the club to tread carefully on the government’s plans to build them a stadium alongside bitter rivals Be Forward Wanderers.

Finance Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha on Monday announced that K1.6 billion had been set aside for the construction of stadia for the two Blantyre-based giants following President Peter Mutharika’s pledge during the May 21 campaign period.

Two officials who served the People’s Team said the issue was tricky as Nyasa Manufacturing Company (NMC) were also supposed to build the team a stadium in fulfilment of one of their takeover conditions.

Former general secretary Higger Mkandawire said the club might end up losing out on both fronts if officials were not careful.

“One of the conditions for Nyasa Manufacturing Company’s takeover of Bullets was that they should construct a stadium. The other conditions were that they should buy a state-of-the-art bus and set up three clubhouses in the country’s three regions. Of course, the bus was bought but we all know that its condition is not up-to-date.

“Now the President has made an offer to build a stadium for the club. It means Nyasa got the team on a silver platter. What needs to be done is that the company should still fulfil its pledge by constructing the stadium whereas the one to be built by the government should be owned by supporters. The company must try its best to fulfil terms of the Memorandum of Understanding which it signed,” Mkandawire said.

Another former general secretary for the side, Harold Fote, suggested that NMC should redirect resources for its promised stadium to other projects within the club.

“In the first place, the government should be commended for promising to construct the stadia for Bullets and Wanderers. This is a step in the right direction in sports development and it will go a long way towards improving football standards in the country. The structures should be seen beyond sport as they will also improve the livelihoods of Malawians through revenue, part of which goes into government coffers.

“The promise by t h e government to construct the stadium is a good opportunity for Nyasa to redirect the money set aside for stadium construction to other commercialisation needs such as club houses, players’ welfare. This would help in making Bullets a football powerhouse in Malawi and across the continent as was the case in the 1980s and the early 2000s,” Fote said.

But Bullets Chief Administration Officer, Albert Chigoga, said the club’s directors were better placed to shed light on the issue.

“It is difficult for me to divulge more details on this matter despite being appointed to speak on behalf of the club. Nyasa Managing Director, Fleetwood Haiya, is better placed to paint a clearer picture,” Chigoga said.

Haiya, who was the team’s Chief Executive Officer until last week, did not pick our calls on several attempts.

Mutharika’s offer to construct stadia for the two sworn rivals has stirred public debate, with some blaming the government for misplacement of resources.

Some commentators have questioned why the government opted to allocate public resources to private and profit-making entities.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has also joined the debate and warned that it would lobby parliamentarians to oppose the bill when the government tables it.

However, supporters from the two teams have warned HRDC against the move and issued an ultimatum asking its leaders to recant on their position.

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