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Noel Lipipa 9th Big Bullets Chair in 16 years

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The circus continued at Nyasa Big Bullets on Sunday in Lilongwe when the Sam Chilunga-led executive committee was dissolved, paving the way for the election of former treasurer, Noel Lipipa, as the interim chairperson.

In taking over the reign, Lipipa became Bullets’ ninth chairperson—including in caretaker basis— in 16 years, reflecting a lack of stability in management that probably explains why Bullets, despite commanding over two million fans, remain poor without any real estate— not even a stadium.

In contrast, Africa’s successful clubs such as South Africa’s Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and TP Mazembe (the Democratic Republic of Congo) have, for over a decade, had the same chairpersons, Irvin Khoza, Kaizer Moutang and Moses Katumbi, respectively.

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Former Bullets chairperson, Malinda Chinyama, who was replaced by Kondie Msungama in 2014, said unless the team establishes a corporate structure operating away from the direct influence of the fans, the club will remain in the wilderness.

“Chilunga did not fail but he was surrounded by people who do not have the same capacity to run the club. They were able to do the budgeting, but failed to forecast sources of income. The problem is the calibre of people that vie for positions. They just go there to gain fame. BB is a big brand that is being mismanaged,” explained Chinyama, who is credited for reviving Bullets when the team was on the brink of collapse.

So, how can Bullets—Malawi’s most successful club with unprecedented 13 league titles— be fixed? Chinyama has an idea, including the need to sensitive the Bullets masses on a clear structure for the team.

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“I have no problem with Nyasa Manufacturing Company taking over. What they need is to invest in infrastructure such as hostel, restaurant and a stadium then value all that so that they can own 50 plus one shareholding with the rest opened to the Bullets family, including the fans,” he explained.

Former Bullets defender, Panganeni Ndovi, was among players, who after being unpaid for months in 2009, successfully called for the exit of Bullets Holdings Limited (BHL), then under the chairmanship of Gideon Kalumbu- Phiri.

Ndovi yesterday seemed to share Chinyama’s observation on Bullets.

“All those people that go there are not developmental in nature but rather want to treat BB as a team they can milk. BB issues can only end if they employ an executive which is development oriented,” Ndovi explained.

Last year, Chilunga replaced Msungama, who was pushed out as Bullets teetered on the brink of bankruptcy following involvement in Confederation of African Football (Caf) Champions League assignments in 2015.

Other Bullets’ chairpersons since 2000 were Msiska brothers, Fiskani and Paskani, under Cifu Limited, Sunduzwayo Madise, Hassam Jussab and Rashid Nembo. It is believed that fans force out officials who are against the supporters accessing gate collections, among others. Bullets’ supporters committee gets 10 percent from gate collections.

Lack of clear ownership is another serious challenge for Bullets. Records in the Ministry of Justice’s Blantyre office indicate that Bullets is registered under several owners and names such as BHL, Bakili Bullets, Cifu Bullets and Big Bullets.

In his manifesto, Super League of Malawi president, Innocent Bottomani, also cited the lack of legal ownership of the league body and clubs as retarding Malawi football.

“This set up is unsuitable for professional football management and my plan is to shake up things by changing the administrative structures whereby day-to-day running of the two entities would be done by employed personnel at a secretariat with a board of trustee/board of directors overseeing affairs from above,” Bottomani explained.

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