K5 million vanishes after Blantyre derby
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) is investigating suspected gate ticketing fraud which saw Saturday’s crowd-puller, involving Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers, grossing K39 million from tickets worth K44 million at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
Fam Marketing and Commercial Manager, Limbani Matola, Sunday confirmed that the Airtel Top 8 semi-final was marred by irregularities after officials and fans from both teams hijacked the reconciliation process which Glory Gate Management firm was handling.
Fam had arranged that officers from a commercial bank would collect the money, with Glory doing the reconciliation at the 40,000-seater venue.
But due to the chaos, the bank reported that 23 booklets, each comprising 100 tickets, were not sold but the teams claim the tickets were sold.
“The gross is K39,338,360. However, there are allegations that the figure was supposed to be K44 million. Teams were not supposed to take part in the reconciliation. Glory was supposed to do that but, before they could finish, the teams invaded the room, where this was taking place, and demanded that everything be handed over to them.
“We are very disappointed because, according to the turnout, there was a record attendance at Bingu National Stadium. We have received reports that people entered for free and there was pandemonium. It appears that the gate management firm was overwhelmed. We have asked the bank to do its reconciliation and we have asked Glory and the police to submit reports so that we should have a fair idea of what happened,” Matola said.
Wanderers Chairperson, Gift Mkandawire, Sunday insisted that he did not have details pertaining to the teams hijacking the gate collections.
“We understand that the tickets that were sold amounted to K44 million but the cash realised is K39 million. We expected much more. When we play Bullets, we don’t expect less than K50 million,” Mkandawire said.
Lilongwe Police spokesman, Kingsley Dandaula, was Sunday not readily available for a comment; so was Bullets Chief Executive Officer, Fleetwood Haiya.
A ticket was pegged at K2,000 at all the gates at the stadium on
Saturday. Ground owners and the teams will receive K8.3 million each from Saturday’s match with Fam getting K6.7 million and K1.6 million for Malawi National Council of Sports.
Last year, the Airtel Top 8 final between Silver Strikers and Be Forward Wanderers grossed K53.5 million with fans paying K1,500 each.
A 2017 Carlsberg Cup final between the Nomads and the People’s Team realised K54.5 million.
Fam has in the past instituted commissions of inquiry to get to the bottom of gate fraud but it persists due to a syndicate which involves virtually all stakeholders, including security personnel.
In 2007, Fam President, Walter Nyamilandu, during a workshop involving the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Super League of Malawi at Protea Ryalls Hotel, admitted that he once caught a police officer stealing gate collections at Kamuzu Stadium that year.
The ACB workshop on Financial Management (gate collections) established that gate fraud is, among other factors, caused by the fact that “hosting teams are not accountable to anyone, not even Fam, not even Sulom and not even their sponsors as regards the money collected at the gate.”
“Some of the receipts are not torn as is the requirement and so [they] find their way back into the system,” the workshop report stated.
“Most pilferage and fraud is conducted from half-time of the game onwards. At this time, two things happen: those in the queue outside become unwilling to pay full cost for the match and so resort to negotiating with cashiers for zam’manja (tip for entry).
Most gate collectors are identified by senior club officials, especially general secretaries; hence, this leads to appeasement, as “football officials perceive gate collectors as ‘lucky’ for being selected to man the gates since they are bound to make money, other than the normal allowances,” the report states.
Late opening of gates also renders fans unwilling to pay, let alone full amounts, for a ticket. The fact that assessment of gate collections is done for the overall collections, and not per point of collection, creates further loopholes.
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