The bitter rivalry between Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers shall strictly remain an on-field battle as the duo continue to harness their cordial relationship off the pitch.
Just a few weeks after Bullets donated K500, 000 towards their rivals’ Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League participation, the two soccer giants on Friday announced plans to jointly take over management of government-owned Kamuzu Stadium on a lease agreement.
Addressing the media on Friday, Bullets Chief Executive Officer Fleetwood Haiya said if the proposal is accepted by the government, the two teams will be in charge of everything at the stadium.
Haiya added that they will be responsible for all maintenance activities as well as all business activities such as finding sponsors who can fill vacant billboards.
“We are still talking to Wanderers on the deal and the next meeting takes place this weekend. We are thinking of a 5 year period for a start, within which we intend to commercialise the stadium so that companies and organisations can advertise their products through various ways while also inventing other means of making the facility generate more revenue besides hosting football matches,” said Haiya.
He expressed hope that government will be excited with the proposal since the clubs will remove the burden of managing the stadium from government which sometimes finds it difficult to maintain and look after the facility.
The Bullets boss however declined that the move might derail Bullets in their juicy ambitions to build their own stadium.
“Our stadium project will not be affected because at the moment we are engaging the appropriate authorities to buy a piece of land for the project. But while that takes time, we want to share and manage the Kamuzu Stadium with our rivals.”
Haiya, whose club has just turned into a commercial entity, then called on the private sector to partner them for enhanced brand visibility.
“We arguably have the biggest fan base in the country, which offers companies an opportunity to market their products to a wider consumer base. We have several platforms, among them jerseys, team bus on which they can place their adverts. They can also use our players as brand ambassadors,” he said.
Speaking in an interview with Malawi24, Wanderers general secretary Mike Butao also said the move is aimed at taking the burden off government to try to explore a more commercial route on the stadium.
“It’s an open secret of how government has struggled to manage the facility at a profit, evidenced by frequent water and electricity disconnections, just to mention a few. So we intend to try to convince them that we manage it for them for a considerable period and agree on how much they would want in a month,” said Butao
He added: “We will, within that period manage everything including renovations, thereby taking the burden off government. We believe this will benefit all the football teams within Blantyre and also those outside” he said.
The Kamuzu Stadium has since last year been closed for renovations.
Last month, Sports Minister Francis Kasaila assured the nation that the venue will open its doors again to elite football before the start of the 2018 season, in April.
But serious doubts have emerged as the installation of the artificial turf is yet to start due to persistent rainfall, which is a minus in the installation process.
As owners, government are entitled to a 25 percent cut from all top flight matches at the venue.