In 1995, I temporarily lost appetite for Super League games either at Kamuzu Stadium or the BAT.
Bata Bullets was playing Escom at the BAT. Accompanied by the late Mcloud, my wife’s brother, we made into the stadium on time and witnessed the people’s team electrocute the power men.
The excitement was, however, short-lived. As we headed for the exit after the match, some hoodlums from Ndirande created a stampede and suddenly, I found myself outside the stadium, transported by the great force of the pandemonium. I soon discovered what that was for; there I was, my wallet expunged from my pockets in some cowboy fashion.
Not that there was much cash in it; a driving license and an ATM card were worthy much more in there. In those days; it took ages to have those replaced.
A few years later, peer-pressured by some crazy football loving friends, I picked on the habit again, this time around; I only watched games played at Kamuzu Stadium. I found MBC stand more gentlemanly.
As time went on, I would watch matches for free. My sister’s husband was a Bata Bullets official and manned the entrance that side of MBC stand.
Whenever he saw me on the queue, he would break protocol and usher me in for free. I felt special.
I was not the only one who benefitted from such kindness. Ever wonder why gate collections are always low? My benefactor is no more and hopefully God forgave him.
What I am I saying? The stadium audience is fraught with so many issues that make it difficult to monetise football either directly or through marketing.
Actually, the greatest audience for a football match is not in that stadium. The English Premier League is very popular in Malawi; not that Malawians fill the stadiums in London or Manchester, Malawians follow the matches using technology.
Currently, EPL is going on without supporters in the stadiums because of the current covid-19 pandemic. Players are still being paid. This is because our friends realised a long time ago that the money is outside the stadiums; the television rights.
In Malawi, the football fraternity believe that the audience in the stadium is the sole source of football matches’ income. If you are following my story, you have already figured out why it is so. Gate collections line up the pockets of some officials.
Other than TV rights, is there a way to monetize football matches in Malawi? This is a digital era and the smartphone is the current platform. TNM and Airtel can live-stream the matches and let people buy the right to watch as a bundle.
Prices of the football matches would depend on the popularity of the teams playing, a Big Bullets and Mighty Wanders elclassical would surely cost more. This is digital era and nobody wants to be chained to a chair to watch a football match; anywhere should do; in a minibus or why not from a mango tree.