New league on the cards

 New league on the cards

 Football Association of Malawi (FAM) plans to introduce a second national competition to be called National Division League to narrow the gap between top-flight and lower league teams.

The association approved the introduction of the new national league during its executive committee meeting held in Mangochi at the weekend.

The development is part of the newly-elected FAM executive committee’s TNM Super League review and harmonisation of the format and regulations of promotion of teams from regional leagues.

Once introduced, the new league will produce teams to be promoted to the TNM Super League, replacing the Central Region Football Association Chupiku Stores League, Southern Region Football Association (SRFA) ThumbsUp League and Northern Region Football Association’s Simso-InnoBuild League.

In an interview yesterday, FAM competitions and communications director Gomezgani Zakazaka said the introduction of the new second-tier is in response to the wide gap between TNM Super League teams and the regional league teams.

Previous action in the ThumbsUp League between Bullets Reserves and Fomo FC

He said: “Generally, the idea is to make our lower leagues competitive and attractive.

“This will ensure that we don’t compromise the quality of the elite league.”

Zakazaka said following the approval of the plans, FAM will start a consultation process on the composition of the league.

“The consultation process, to be led by the league development ad-hoc committee, will determine how the structure will be,” he said.

Once established, Malawi will follow the footsteps of fellow Cosafa bloc countries such as Zambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe who already have second-tier national leagues.

Meanwhile, regional leagues and Super League of Malawi (Sulom) say they will wait for official communication from FAM on the matter.

SRFA chairperson Raphael Humba said: “We cannot say much until we get the official communication from FAM.”

On his part Sulom general secretary Williams Banda said: “We will comment once we have the concept note.”

However, football analyst Patrick Zgambo said while the idea is welcome, FAM needs to address issues of lower league teams’ capacity to fulfil fixtures in the national league.

He said “The idea is sensible, but seems economically impractical at this moment. The economic environment is just not right at the moment.”

Zgambo said regional clubs, which are earmarked for the new league, already struggle to fulfil national fixtures when participating in cup competitions.

He said: “Most of these are hardly able to sustain themselves to compete when drawn in national cup stages.”

Zgambo said unless FAM secures solid sponsorship for the new league, it will only worsen the challenges already crippling the top-flight and the lower leagues

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