Football is supposed to sell itself to potential sponsors and the decision by Football Association of Malawi (Fam) and Super League of Malawi (Sulom) to go ahead with the kick off of this season is a good decision as a way forward to attract other willing stakeholders after the withdrawal of TNM.
For 10 years, TNM has enjoyed the monopoly of the Super League and much as at the outset, the company said it was doing it as a ‘corporate social responsibility’, the mobile service providers still gained so much from the partnership through advertising their brand and services.
Through ‘Sapota Mapeto’ and ‘Predict and Win’ and other innovations using the SMS from the company, many fans gleefully participated in these fun conceptions and at the end of the day, the company also benefitted a lot.
I have always said that sponsoring football is supposed to be a business venture and not as a corporate social responsibility as we are made to believe. Out there companies trip over each other just to be part of the glamour of football.
Companies bid to sponsor football and when one is identified that a contract is signed for a short period and when that contract ends another bid takes place. The existing sponsor, if willing to continue supporting, also sends its bid and competes with the others.
A major sponsor of the league is identified but other stakeholders are allowed in to display their company name or products and services through the jersey.
For instance, Barclays sponsors the English Premiership and as the major sponsor it enjoys more space on the electronic billboards around the pitch. Others are also displayed now and then. Barclays name is always on the sleeve of every team jersey and in the majority of the fliers to do with the English Premiership.
This is how we should work out these sponsorship contracts as well by allowing others also to join the football glamour. What happened with the TNM sponsorship was that it barred other mobile service providers such as Airtel but allowed Malawi Telecomunication Limited (MTL) to have their name emblazoned on Mighty Wanderers jersey when it was sponsoring the Nomads.
This was despite that MTL had also gone into the mobile phone services though not as complicated as the other two. But Airtel could not be allowed even to sponsor a club that was in the Super League.
In South Africa, a team sponsored by mobile service company, Vodafone is allowed to participate in the cup competition sponsored by another mobile service provider, MTN.
That’s what Competitions and Fair Trade Commission indicated when it scrutinised the contract between Sulom and TNM that when a sponsor comes in other companies can join in as well if they see it fit like it used to be many years back.
Over 10 years ago, when football lost sponsorship following spates of ugly violence at venues, the corporate world withdrew from sponsoring and in desperate measures, the government came in to support the Super League.
Fam then launched the Fam Cup even without sponsorship and went on a fundraising campaign. Soon the corporate world became sympathetic and joined hands with the football governing body.
Those companies were NBS, Press Trust and the Standard Bank, then called Stambic and others. They contributed in various ways for the Fam Cup to roll off.
After a while, Standard Bank went solo through the Knock-Out Cup in 2007. Standard Bank pulled out abruptly last year but fortunately Fam were rescued by Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (FISD) and the cup was renamed FISD Challenge.
However, I feel that the name Fam Cup should have been retained and that it can now be called FISD Fam Cup and if at the end of the contract with FISD and another company comes in, then that companies name or product and services, could be added to it.
That way we keep these trophies for prosperity rather than they dying a natural death once the sponsor decides to pull out. The Fam Cup was modelled on the concept of the FA Cup in England, which is part of the history of the English football.
So, yes, this season’s Super League should kick off with or without sponsorship and just like what the government did over 10 years, it can offer some windfall as we wait for another sponsor to come in.
I can see that happening because the Minister of Sports Henry Mussa told Voice of Livingstonia last week that TNM should be allowed to go and hopefully other stakeholders can come in.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :