Tiya Somba’s manifesto aims to turn SULOM secretariat into corporate office

Incumbent Super League of Malawi (SULOM) president, Tiya Somba Banda says once given fresh mandate at the elective annual general meeting (AGM) on Saturday, February 25, he shall call for an extraordinary meeting in the first 90 days of office to dissolve the positions of general secretary and treasury to enable the creation of the offices of chief executive officer (CEO) and finance manager.

In his manifesto he has unveiled, Somba Banda says the SULOM secretariat “will be a decision making office guided by modern football standards and regulations”, adding that “such a corporate structure will enable clubs have more a direct contact and access to their requirements”.

He first takes cognizance that in the current situation, the voted offices of the general secretary and treasurer are executive committee (Exco) members who run the offices on a part time basis — which is supposed to be managed by a CEO and finance officer.

The incumbent says the current set up weakens the corporate governance of the offices adding that the checks and balances are compromised while describing the current set up as “ineffective, inefficient and slow to respond to club’s needs”.

He thus says the general secretary and treasurer shall be the chair of the finance and audit committee to improve on governance.

He also says he has an intent to improve league management whose shortfalls are that fixtures “come in weekend piece meals and not in full with irregular changes to suit some clubs”, adding that cautions (yellow cards) are recorded and cleared manually, which forces clubs to travel long distances to clear and pay.

In his vision, Somba Banda says “the strategy is to have full first round fixtures at a minimum that doesn’t change anyhow. This will restore integrity of the league and help in club’s and other stakeholder (TV & Radio etc.) planning.”

He shall implement a digital competition management system as it is with Confederation of African Football (CAF) and other professional leagues and to use Mpira Connect cards for player identification during inspection.

He shall phase out the use of manual records and payment for yellow or red cards by implementing a digital payment clearance through Competitions Management System.

On clubs revenues, Somba Banda says the current situation is at K100 million sponsorship as at December 2022; that clubs receive K1 million subvention from TNM sponsorship and other sources of revenues such as gate collections, broadcasting rights and drops of kit sponsorship.

But in his vision, he targets to turn the League into a billion kwacha industry by December 2023 in which he pledges K150 million sponsorship; K100 million FAM grant; K600 million gate revenues and K150 million as TV rights.

He pledges that all cubs shall get K10 million grant a season with K5 million from FAM grant immediately after meeting club license requirements; K4 million from TNM sponsorship grant and K1 million from a pool fund.

He also highlights plans to implement electronic ticketing for the 2023 season, saying the current situation is an archaic manual gate collections, which is unsustainable coupled that led to prosecutions of gate revenue theft in 2022 season.

In his vision, he says his administration shall implement Mpamba Card as the only mode of payment for all Super League games and to tap on a POS machine on stadium entry stadium — dubbed ‘Tha Walowa’.

There shall also be “more accountability and transparency as all teams will have a portal where they can access and view their gate revenues live with historical data” and that “funds will be disbursed direct to teams accounts or Mpamba wallet within 24 hours of collections”.

He also pledges to “continuously develop player talents to live to their full potential, saying “statistics from the 2022 season revealed that young talent lack game time as they are not featured by most clubs”.

And that some of them play in the Under-17, Under-20 national teams but never get promoted to the senior teams in Super League and many reserve sides groom young energetic and talented players every season while “Super League players live in destitute after retiring from active football”.

He pledges that SULOM shall:

* Introduce mandatory inclusion of 2 players aged below 23 on a matchday squad;

* Introduce a league for reserve sides of the Super League teams;

* CAF D coaching courses to be conducted from mid season break to be offered captains and aging players to build capacity and prepare them for life after football;

* Partner with TEVET and other institutions on Super League tertiary education scholarships; and

* Will also encourage each team to have at least 2 former players in management or operations positions.

He also has plans to monetize digital broadcasting right, whose short falls are that “Mpira TV has revoltunalised the TV rights — generating a record K123 million in the first year of operations in season 2022 but currently “clubs are not getting revenue from social media broadcasting” with digital streaming avenues like Facebook etc not generating any revenues at the moment.

He thus says the plan is to implement Super League games on the go (Mpira Mmanja) — whereby multiple games will be broadcast live on a TNM Mobile App that “will bring live TV to every person, to every fan and to every corner of the country”.

This, he says, shall “attract more sponsors for live streaming increase revenues for clubs and improve brand visibility and coverage”.

On league sponsorship, Somba Banda says his administration has “negotiated an increase of TNM sponsorship to K450 million for 3 years;  managed to secure an annual K100 million grant from FAM and we have a K14 4 million Farmers Organisation Ltd Man of the Match sponsorship”.

He adds that end of season awardees “are rewarded handsomely with plots and vehicles” and that they secured sponsorship with Team Khwezy buses on referees’ transportation

“The strategy is to nurture and consolidate the sponsorships that are already there and monetize the partnerships to build a long-term symbiotic relationship,” he says, while pledging to ensure that subcommittees have clubs’ representation to improve the oversight functions of the League; to have scheduled quarterly chairmen’s Forum stipulated in the constitution; ensure that AGM resolutions are implemented with regular updates on progress and to facilitate annual trainings on club management, football administration and practical commercialization drive.

He is up against vice-president of Nyasa Big Bullets, Fleetwood Haiya, who officially launched his manifesto on February 11 — who also told the delegates that included 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, which is against SULOM constitution that 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”.

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.”

Haiya highlighted that his administration shall undertake “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.”

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