The 2020/21 TNM Super League season suffered a setback yesterday after the league’s administrators announced a three-week break in-line with newly gazetted Covid-19 regulations.
Sulom had released a fixture which would have attracted six games, with Blantyre giants Nyasa Big Bullets and Mighty Be Forward Wanderers invading the Capital City.
However, Sulom issued a statement advising stakeholders about the three-week break after Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 drilled the association that the public gathering restriction from 100 to 50 people includes athletes.
“Sulom would like to announce that the TNM Super League will go on a three-week recess in order to observe the newly gazetted Covid-19 prevention laws announced by Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19.
“This follows the clarification by the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 that the restrictions of public gathering to 50 people include athletes,” the statement reads.
The league’s administrators admitted it would be difficult to enforce the gazetted regulations as Fifa had increased the number of substitutes per game in response to Covid-19.
“With the new Fifa five substitutes rule, players are already 20 per team (40) plus seven technical officers (14) thus the total number of teams on the pitch is already at 54 already. This excludes match officials, the media, paramedics, stewards and Police. With the new laws in place, it is therefore, impossible to have a match played under minimum requirements as stipulated by world football governing body Fifa,” stated the statement which was released by the league’s General Secretary Williams Banda.
Sulom has promised to comply fully with the newly gazetted laws in an effort to fight the pandemic.
Bullets Chief Administration Officer Albert Chigoga said they had been notified about the break.
“It is a situation which we understand. A new wave [of Covid-19] has hit the nation so hard. Under these circumstances I understand that football should be called off until further notice. Sulom has indicated that football will be suspended for three weeks; so, we will wait and continue preparing until the resumption date will be communicated to us,” he said.
Wanderers General Secretary Victor Maunde shared similar sentiments.
“We are not happy that the league has been suspended but we cannot complain much because the situation involves people’s lives,” he said.
Sports analyst George Kaudza Masina said it was obvious that the league could be suspended.
“We saw this coming and it is bad for our beautiful game. In the first place, we forced matter by restarting the Super League when we were not ready after a long break.
“With the passage of time, we ended up playing in empty stadia which did not help matters at all considering the financial status of our league and clubs at large,” he said.
Masina said the league will make clubs poorer and the break comes in as a solace to both the teams and Sulom itself.
“Worse still one tends to wonder why Sulom couldn’t have halted the league earlier as this has just been done to abide by the resolutions of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19; otherwise, Sulom wanted to continue with the league,” he said.
The former Football Association of Malawi (Fam) acting executive secretary said the decision to go for a three week break has got its advantages and disadvantages too.
“Advantage in that it will help in minimising the spread of the coronavirus. It is relief to the financially bankrupt clubs and to the teams which are not performing well a chance to recollect themselves.
“A disadvantage to the teams which are on the peak as they might lose their rhythm. Worse still, three weeks break might turn into months. Otherwise the suspension of the league is a welcome idea and all stakeholders have to understand the situation in which we are in as this decision has been done in good faith,” he said.