The financial struggles of Super League teams has been exposed as most players from about four sides have started the 2022 TNM Super League season without getting their signing-on fee, Malawi News Sport can reveal.
Our findings show that all clubs owe players signing-on fee but the extent is worse at teams such as Mighty Wanderers, Mighty Tigers, Ekwendeni Hammers and TN Stars.
Giants Nyasa Big Bullets, Silver Strikers and debutants Sable Farming also owe their players signing on fees.
Football Players Association of Malawi (FPAM) General Secretary Ernest Mangani confirmed the development following complaints the body received from some of the listed clubs.
Sources from Wanderers indicated that newly signed players Chiukepo Msowoya, Miracle Gabeya, Pilirani Mapila and Muhammad Sulumba are still waiting for their signing-on fee.
Some old timers at Wanderers are still owed money after agreeing contract extension.
Wanderers’ Commercialisation Committee Chairperson Clement Stambuli last week downplayed the delay.
“Everything is being sorted and handled by the club. We will sort them out. It is just a matter of time,” he said.
Elsewhere, Ekwendeni Hammers Patron Gift Mkandawire confirmed that the club was yet to pay the players due to financial woes as a result of Covid-19 pandemic effects.
“I cannot pretend here. We are struggling big time. We are still waiting for a potential company which promised to buy the team last year. Once this is completed we might make a breakthrough,” Mkandawire said.
Another club, TN Stars is also sailing in troubled waters, joining the list of teams with outstanding signing-on fees.
Stars Media Officer Bester Ngwale said they intend to make payments once the situation stabilises.
“We are in deep financial problems. This is no longer a secret at all. Last season we were deprived gate revenue due to Covid-19 protocols. Most of the players we have this season are loan players from the regional league teams. A few others are rejected players from other Super League teams. No player has been paid his signing-on fee. Once our financial situation improves we will consider paying them,” Ngwale said.
Government owned Civil Service United are not spared either as the club is yet to pay old guards and has only paid signing fees to newly signed players.
Civil Vice Chairperson Dave Chirwa said they need about K26 million to settle all the arrears including signing-on fees and contract extension.
“We paid newly signed players because they were relocating and needed to settle. Nevertheless, we have written the government as our sponsors to assist us,” he said.
According to our findings, Silver is remaining with only two players to settle all outstanding signing-on fee and contract extension amounts.
Silver’s Chief Executive Officer Thokozani Chimbali confirmed the development but could not shed more light.
On the part of Bullets, they partially paid all players money for either signing on fee or contract extension.
However, the People’s Team still owe some players balances.
League debutants Sable Farming General Secretary Anthony Kafuwa said they agreed with their players that they will be paid in three instalments.
“We have assured them that they will get their dues before the season ends. As of now we paid them partly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mangani attributed the development to weak regulations.
“This is why the FPA has always put the blame on the regulations. Regulations in Malawi football are so weak that they allow every Jim and Jack to start football business even if they have capital or not. “And the laws do not protect players who constitute over 80 percent of the labour force in the football industry,” he said.
Sulom president Tiya Somba-Banda backed the clubs, saying contracts were agreements between players and clubs.
“Contracts are framed differently. It doesn’t mean that players can get their dues there and then. Players and clubs can agree on mode of payment. Besides signing-on fee is not mandatory. As Sulom we can at least enforce for players to be paid their salaries,” he said.
Football Association of Malawi Club Licencing Manager Casper Jangale did not answer our calls.
Peter Fote is a Sports Journalist with huge experience in radio and Television reporting, production and presentation. He once worked with Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and is currently working for Times Media Group.