Survival of the fittest
The financial effects of Coronavirus pandemic on the domestic scene is steadily hitting teams hard following revelations that Mzuzu Warriors and Chitipa United players have gone two months without pay.
The two join fellow Northern region sides Karonga United and Ekwendeni Hammers who made a similar confession two weeks ago.
The development raises fear as it is very unlikely that such sides would be able to raise a team should the ban of sporting events including football due to Covid-19 be lifted.
For Chitipa it is even worse as the side is yet to pay players six month salary amounting to K6 million.
Karonga and Ekwendeni players have gone without pay since February whereas Warriors’ players are yet to receive their package for March and April.
Chitipa General Secretary, Duma Ng’oma, said they were struggling to pay players since last season.
“Last season, our players did not get their salary for four months. This year we haven’t paid them their salary for March and April. We are struggling and it is pathetic being a self-sponsored side. We rely on well-wishers but things have turned worse because of this pandemic,” Ng’oma said.
Karonga need about K4.2 million to offset their financial burden.
“As of now, we are trying to contribute to give our players at least quarter of their March salary. We are hoping that this pandemic will end soon,” said the team’s General Secretary Ramsy Simwaka.
Ekwendeni Chairperson, Mabuchi Mkandawire, said their highly anticipated Super League debut had faced challenges before the season commenced.
“We were hoping to survive through gate collections. We can’t do anything now because the season is yet to start. Where are we going to get the money from? We are all sympathising with the players having gone three months without pay,” Mkandawire said.
Another team from the North, Warriors exhausted its coffers after giving players new contracts.
“We are yet to pay our players their March and April dues as we prioritised new contracts. We are still exploring ways on how to fundraise to finish the balance which we owe the players. It is tough we can’t promise anything yet,” Chilongo said.
The development leaves out Malawi Defence Force sponsored side, Moyale Barracks, as the only financially stable team of the five teams representing the North in the elite league.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) last week announced two phases of Covid-19 relief package targeting Super League and lower league players.
Each Super League player is expected to receive K40,000 monthly for seven months whereas lower tier players will receive relief packs.
About 62 regional teams across the country will benefit from the initiative with each team getting 30 packs per month to be distributed to 25 players and five officials.
The packs will contain 10 kilogrammes of maize flour, two packets of sugar, table salt, 200 grammes of soya pieces, two kilogrammes of beans and two bars of washing soap all worth K10,000.
The total of Fam Covid Relief Package will be sourced from the governing body’s projects fund and is expected to cost about K332.8 million.
It has been distributed as follows: Super League teams to get K140 million, K73.4 will go to Women’s Football, Referees will pocket K21.3 million and with Regional League teams benefitting K98 million.
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.