The Southern Region Football Association (SRFA) has lamented the closure of Escom ground, saying it will worsen the problem of inadequate venues in Blantyre.
A visit to the site shows that construction works are underway to turn the ground into something else, different from a sports related structure.
Officials from the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM), owners of the facility, could not be reached for comment.
In reaction, SRFA Chairperson, Raphael Humba described the development as a blow to his league, which has been using the venue for its fixtures.
“We are already running short of venues in town, and to hear of the demolition of Escom ground is a big blow to our league,” lamented Humba.
This has come just a few days after President Arthur Peter Mutharika confirmed government’s plans to construct a new football stadium in Blantyre.
But Humba insists that won’t be a solution to his league’s shortage of venues.
“We are talking of 4 to 5 years for the new stadium to be up and running, and worse still, we play our matches in these small stadia while such big facilities are for Super League matches, so that won’t rescue our situation. If Escom felt that the ground was no longer important, they should have offered it to the Football Association of Malawi, at a price of course and not what they have done,” added Humba.
Veteran soccer pundit Humphrey Mvula shared Humba’s concerns by faulting the power generation firm for the move.
“That ground has been there for a long time, it has its own place in the history of Malawi football after contributing a lot to the development of the game.
I thought it was time to refurbish and upgrade it into a modern facility, so that it can host Super League games like it used to be back in the years. But demolishing it at a time when Blantyre has been hit by shortage of proper venues is very unfortunate.
The Kamuzu Stadium was closed early this year and Government is talking of planting a new structure at Njamba Park, but that won’t be next year or the other, which means the problem of venue shortage will still be there,” said Mvula.
Besides hosting Southern Region Football League fixtures, Escom ground was also the training venue for Super League relegated side, Blantyre United.
Previously, it was the home of Super League outfit Escom United before the club closed shop, following the withdrawal of sponsorship from the company.