Rivals unite: Bullets, Wanderers gang up against FAM

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Blantyre based giants Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers have ganged up against Football Association of Malawi (FAM) over the decision to close Kamuzu Stadium with less than a week to go before the commencement of the 2017 soccer season.

On Wednesday, the FA released a statement to order an immediate closure of the facility for maintenance saying the stadium is not fit to host matches.

According to the country’s soccer governing body, the decision to have the facility closed was in line with FIFA Club Licensing in which the FA inspected all the stadiums across the country and 12 out of the 14 inspected stadiums were certified to host Super League and cup matches.

Kamuzu Stadium

Bullets and Wanderers want Kamuzu Stadium opened.

And reacting to the news, the two teams have vowed to force the FA to rescind the decision saying it will not be fair for Blantyre to be playing their games away from home.

Soft spoken Wanderers General Secretary Mike Butao told Malawi24 in an exclusive interview that the issue is now being discussed by the two teams to map the way forward.

Butao said closing the facility without another alternative will not be welcomed by the two teams.

“The only stadium in Blantyre cannot be closed down when there is no alternative. If it is the case of replacing the turf, then they can do this when the first round is completed and the teams are on break. Playing all our matches away from home will put all Lilongwe teams at a big advantage and apart from that, Blantyre teams will be spending more money on travel expenses and on accommodation.

“The stadium is even far better than the other stadiums that have been certified by the FA so this has been done deliberately to kill Blantyre teams,” he said.

Butao added that the decision is a deliberate move by FAM to fix matches in favor of Lilongwe based teams.

“For me, this is match fixing being done deliberately by the authorities in order to favor Lilongwe teams. There is no way you can ask Blantyre teams to play all their games away from home,” he explained.

He also wondered as to how Wanderers passed Club Licensing test with flying colors yet the documents that were submitted by the club indicated that Kamuzu Stadium will be the home base for the Nomads.

“We presented our club licensing details to FAM and passed with flying colors and in those documents, Kamuzu Stadium was our base. Now four months into the financial year, the FA makes this absurd announcement, were the results not genuine?

“We just want a level playing field. We presented our budgets to sponsors and got our annual allocation based on the fact that we would use Kamuzu Stadium as our base. FAM has never budgeted for us, how do you expect clubs to balance their budgets? Why don’t you shortlist grounds that have made the grade for the following season before hand?“ he wondered.

And commenting on behalf of Bullets, General Secretary Albert Chigoga said they will engage FAM and all key stakeholders into talks regarding the matter.

“This has disturbed us because Government, FAM and Super League of Malawi (Sulom) are not speaking the same language. Government and Sulom have given us a go ahead to continue using the facility for the time being as they are looking for other alternatives but FAM is saying the opposite so we are very disturbed.

“It won’t be fair for Blantyre teams to be travelling long distances for matches as if FAM will be providing us with funding to meet our travelling and accommodation expenses. We will engage them into talks to try to convince them to rescind this decision because the timing is very wrong.

“We will ask the FA to allow us to continue using the facility and if they are planning to replace the turf, they can do that when the first round is completed,” said Chigoga.

Asked on what will happen if the FA refuse to bow down to their wishes, Chigoga said: “We have a plan B but we will first of all engage them into talks and we are very positive that they will listen to our concerns.”

The FA has certified Mzuzu Stadium, Kalulu Stadium, Balaka Stadium, Civo Stadium, Chitowe Stadium, Nankhaka Stadium, Silver Stadium, Zomba Community Centre Ground, Dedza Stadium, Chilomoni Stadium, Bingu National Stadium and Mulanje Stadium.

In a related development, supporters from the two teams had a joint meeting at the stadium on Thursday afternoon where they gave the FA a three-day ultimatum to declare the stadium fit to host matches.

The supporters have threatened the association that failure to bow down to their demands will see them taking to the streets on Sunday.

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