Super League of Malawi (Sulom) has partly blamed the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) for the current fixture congestion in elite competitions.
Among others, the league cites the introduction of the Castel Cup, which it says was not on the initial calendar, Flames’ prolonged camping, including the trip to Saudi Arabia and FCB Nyasa Bullets’ participation in the CAF Champions League.
The situation has led to clubs playing at least three games within a week in some cases and a disparity in the games played.
In a statement issued on Sunday evening, signed by the league’s vice-president Colonel Gilbert Mittawa, the top-flight league runners said at the start of the 2023 season, they released a handbook that included fixtures for the entire season.
Reads the statement in part: “This was done to enable Sulom, clubs and other stakeholders plan and thus, have a well-managed league.
“Sulom adopted a one-game per week policy. This policy has made the 2023 Super League season highly competitive and exciting.
“The implementation of this policy has not been an easy task. The main challenge has been fixture congestion due to several factors.
“Firstly, several stadiums were closed for maintenance and failure to meet licensing infrastructure requirements.”
The league says these developments forced them to reschedule some matches against the provisional season fixture that was released at the beginning of the season.
Further reads the statement: “Secondly, the league has also been affected by unplanned national team engagements and prolonged camping. The Flames went for unplanned camping in Saudi Arabia, which was not on the football calendar.
“The 2023 Cosafa Cup was scheduled for May 2023, but was later changed to be played in June/July. This forced Sulom to reschedule some league matches.
“Thirdly, FAM introduced the Castel Cup which was not on the calendar as the season commenced. This has resulted in fixture congestion for Super League Clubs.”
It further says Bullets’ participation in CAF Champions League resulted in the team having more games in hand.
Reads the statement: “Sulom understands the negative impact of fixture congestion to clubs, players and the league as a whole.
“While this situation is undesirable, it must be mentioned that fixture congestion is not only synonymous with Malawi football. During the 2022/23 season, most leagues in Europe, including the English Premier League had fixture congestion due to the Qatar World Cup that was played in winter.”
Sulom says it is taking measures to mitigate the impact of congestion for the remaining fixtures by introducing mid-week games, especially for teams that have played fewer games than others.
“We are also actively engaging our mother body FAM to allocate iid-week cup games,” the statement reads.
FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda asked for more time to comment on the issue, but Chitipa United general secretary Duma Ngoma and Mighty Mukuru Wanderers coach Mark Harrison described Sulom’s statement as long overdue.
Said Ngoma: “Much as we applaud the communication, we have reservations.
“The statement could have come much earlier than now. As teams, we have already felt the pinch both in terms of costs as well as players fatigue. Good decisions are made before such circumstances happen.
“Our mother body foresaw this coming and further more, teams tried to advise on the same behind the scenes though our prophecy was not considered serious.”