When Standard Bank suddenly announced to withdraw the prestigious the Knock-Out Cup that the bank was sponsoring, Football Association of Malawi (Fam) was completely taken aback because decision came so sudden without adequate notice.
This prompted Fam to bring forward the Presidential Cup as one way of keeping competitions alive.
Standard Bank had been sponsoring the Knock-Out Cup since 2007. It was played at the end of the TNM Super League season in which the six top teams in the Super League qualified for the event and two were voted in by the bank’s clients.
The Knock-Out Cup started as Fam Cup in mid 2000 at a time when the corporate world decided to abandon football in Malawi following a surge in violence at venues.
Several companies, including Standard Bank, were part of the plan to resurrect football sponsorship through the Fam Cup until Standard Bank decided to go solo and renamed it the Knock-Out.
But immediately after the Knock-Out cup was phased out, Fam heaved a huge sigh of relief when Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (FISD) came forward to sponsor a cup.
The sponsorship deal with FISD is for five years, and the question that begs answers is; after five years, what next? If FISD would decide not to renew it, will it be the end of the cup?
In my opinion, this cup should be owned by Fam. It is the same concept that Fam initiated way back in mid 2000.
When Standard Bank pulled out, Fam should have reverted to the original concept where several companies joined it as sponsorship partners.
For starters, after this successful tournament, gracefully won by Mighty Be Forward Wanderers, Fam — with the input from FISD — should go back to the drawing board and make this tournament to become generic as the Fam Challenge Cup.
In this case, up to the expiry of the five-year contract with FISD, it should be known as the Fam FISD Challenge. All its concept and rules and regulation should be owned by Fam and be kept for posterity.
If at the end of five years FISD decides to pull out, then the next partner that would come would be placed in between — e.g. Fam ‘Mlanjira’ Challenge Cup.
Fam needs to put in place some strong structures that if FISD would decided under justifiable circumstances to pull out and there is no other company coming forward to prop it up, it should be able to run the competition on its own through finances from other sources which the competition itself should generate.
It’s something that can be worked out well as through broadcasting rights and gate collections. We shouldn’t panic at the last minute like the way it was with Standard Bank.
In that vein, there is need for Fam and its stakeholders to restructure a proper football calendar that shall be generic. Our football is supposed to be sync with other leagues from the African continent so that it ends in good time so that the league champions can start the process of registration with Confederation of African Football (CAF) in good time.
Our league is in progress up to end of December, yet the deadline for CAF registration is mid December. A country only registers its national league champions for the Champions league. In our case, the title race is still open and from look of things right up to the final lap.
So, when there is a proper calendar of events that takes into account that of Fifa, Caf and Cosafa, it would be easy to attract potential sponsors — who may be courted well in advance so that they may include football sponsorship in their budgets.
We should run these competitions as a business and not treat them like handouts that once one decides to pull out we all cringe in panic.
Otherwise, let’s give our heartfelt thanks to FISD for coming to the rescue of our football and that after five years, if all goes well, they could continue their support and in the review of the tournament, they should be asked if other partners can come in as well.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :