Fleetwood Haiya pledges to lift football to greater heights as he launches manifesto in Lilongwe 

Aspirant for the post of president for the Super League of Malawi (SULOM), Fleetwood Haiya launched his manifesto on Saturday at the magnificent Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) with strong call to affiliates to vote for him, saying he is the right candidate to transform football in the country.

This is ahead of the SULOM elective annual general meeting (AGM) on February 25 and Haiya will be up against the incumbent, Tiya Somba-Banda, who attained the post unopposed in 2019.

Haiya presenting the manifesto

Haiya told the delegates at the official launch of his manifesto — that was graced by Minister of Sports, Uchizi Mkandawire as well as his predecessor, Richard Chimwendo Banda — that once elected he will set up a professional and effective SULOM secretariat in order to ensure smooth operations of the operations.

He said for a long time SULOM has been operating without secretariat, saying: “SULOM constitution envisages an Executive Committee (Exco) that is fully supported by a professional secretariat.

“The Exco sets policy direction, and the secretariat implements. However, for the longest period, Exco has shouldered the responsibility of the secretariat by carrying out the day to day operational work.

“As a result, this has affected the ability of the Exco to provide sound strategic direction for the development and growth of the League.”

Recognising that a vibrant and effective secretariat is a key driver to the development of football, Haiya said he will ensure the restructuring of SULOM office will be built on a professional and commercially viable foundation.

“Among others, the secretariat will have a chief executive officer (CEO), financial & administration manager and a marketing manager. The secretariat will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of SULOM while executive committee will focus on policy formulation and provision of strategic guidance.”

He added that the secretariat will facilitate effective and efficient management of perennial bottlenecks currently faced by the league administrators — among which include “feeble commercialization efforts, delays in financial reports, player registration and handling of complaints”.

Present among the delegates was former Sports Minister, Chimwendo Banda (centre)

Other challenges include “game & gate management, the failure to embrace digital platforms and leveraging on existing e-networks

advanced by Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and world governing body, FIFA.

Haiya also promised to serve clubs in their best interest while initiating and implementing SULOM Strategic Plan as the best tool and also pledged to realizing the full potential of Malawi elite league through vibrant commercialization while supporting Super League clubs to be professional and financially stable.

On commercialization, Haiya said it is sad that currently SULOM has no commercialisation strategy and as a result, the league has no corporate brand.

“It has failed to fully exploit existing and future commercial opportunities. Without a corporate brand, SULOM cannot attract investors and commercial partners. It cannot engage in and establish

viable business deals which can increase club revenues.

“To address this gap, my leadership will engage in an aggressive commercialisation drive which will not only increase revenue for the league and the clubs but create a corporate brand.

“This commercialisation drive will build on the current source of funds while exploring new commercial avenues,” he said, while also pledging to maximise on gate revenue by improving gate management

systems, from inception to execution, to minimise gate fraud.

“We will undertake a due diligence, in recruitment of gate management firms though a thoroughly set procurement procedure that will call for an expression of interest. Only firms that will satisfy required standards and capacity will be recruited.”

Minister of Sports Uchizi Mkandawire commended Haiya for the manifesto, saying this will help clubs to chose candidates on point of knowledge as never before.

In an earlier interview, Haiya’s counterpart, Somba-Banda maintained that his tenure of office from 2019 has laid strong foundation of football professionalism — highly emphasizing the “landmark revenues in TV broadcasting rights from a meagre K18 million to K116 million”.

He added that his administration opened up additional revenue streams for teams in terms of kit sponsorship and also enjoyed strong relationship with FAM that led to K100 million annual grant.

His administration also secured what he described as “landmark” a players’ medical insurance contract with Medical Aid Society of Malawi (MASM) and that they also rolled out of an automated Super League Competition Management System (CMS) in line with Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA standards.

“We also re-negotiated the sponsorship package [with Super League sponsors, TNM] leading to increase of prize money from K15 million to K40 million — which is a 166% increase and with K82 million of the K100 million sponsorship going directly to the teams.”

He also emphasized that his tenure saw a violence-free matches, saying families are now free to bring to the stadia bringing their kids along.

But some affiliate voter, who declined to be mentioned, told us that much as he is neutral on whom to vote for in the two-horse race, it feels like “an insult” that “Tia has over glorified himself” and his team in the past four years.

“For example, he is promising the same pledges made four years ago on ‘maximising revenue for Super League clubs’,” said the source. “This is far from the truth — we have seen elite club matches glossing a meagre K30,000 a match.”

He provided a screenshot of a match between TN Stars and Karonga United at Kasungu Stadium on November 13, 2022, that grossed K26,000 but expenses were at K24,000 — with the police receiving K10,000; stewards K7,200 and St. John’s Ambulance K5,000.

“Teams spend huge sums of money to fulfill their fixtures,” said our source. “Karonga United travelled all the way from base only to return home with nothing. What has SULOM done to maximize revenue for such clubs?”

Somba-Banda had emphasized that all that were promised have been fulfilled except the support towards Super League champions participation in CAF competitions — stressing that this will roll out this year.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Nyasa Times

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