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Referees fees hit Sulom

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Football is expensive and Super League of Malawi has learned this the hard way. The league runners are stretched to the limit with referees expenditure which is at not less than K20 million per season.

To make matters worse, Sulom has to use its own revenue since the referees expenses are not factored in their K90 million sponsorship package from TNM.

Sulom pays each set of five referees assigned to a game K36,000. If the game is at Chitowe in Dwangwa, Sulom has to pay for travel costs which is at K70,000 plus accommodation and food for the five referees.

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If the game is in Nchalo, the travel costs for the referees from Blantyre is at about K40,000.

Sulom treasurer, Tiya Somba Banda, said the league runners rely on gate collections and broadcasting rights to pay the referees.

“On referees allowances alone, the expenditure is at K7.56 million, K3.15 million on lunches, K1.47 million on match commissioners and K7.5 million on transport. We, therefore, spend around K20 million on referees in a season,” he said.

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“Unfortunately, it is not in the sponsorship package. There is no single tambala on referees in the package. We use our own resources like the share we get from the gate collections and broadcasting rights.”

Last season Sulom revenue was at K182, 805, 750. However, the amount had to be shared among stakeholders.

The Lion’s share went to Super League club who get 50 percent of the gate collections. The remaining 50 percent was shared between Football Association of Malawi (10 percent), Malawi National Council of Sports (five percent), Super League(10 percent and stadium owners (25 percent).

National Referees Committee general secretary, Chris Kalichero, while sympathising with Sulom, stressed that running football was not cheap.

“National football league administration is expensive. Anyway, we sat down with Sulom at the beginning of the season and discussed the proposed referees fees and came up with a consensus,” Kalichero said.

“In fact, the K36,000 per set allowance that we have now is not what we proposed. We wanted the allowance per set to be at K45, 000. But after discussions we decided to put it at K36,000.”

On Sulom having to source funds from broadcasting rights and gate collections, Kalichero advised the league runners to consult stakeholders before meeting sponsors.

“What happened is a ‘top-to-bottom’ approach which is not always the best way to handle such issues,” Kalichero said.

“What should have happened was for Sulom to meet stakeholders first before meeting sponsors. That way, they could have been negotiating for sponsorship increament bearing in mind the needs of the various stakeholders like referees so that the sponsorship should cover everything.”

But Somba said they had already started negotiating with the sponsors so that the referees perks are factored in the sponsorship package.

“We did (negotiate with the sponsors) however, the current budget cannot accommodate,” he said.

“But we are hopeful that it will be included next season as TNM promised to look at it.”

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