AT a time when the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) is moving at a snails’ pace to come up with a comprehensive response to the Covid-19 pandemic for the benefit of its affiliates, the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has come up with a Special Relief Fund aimed at bailing out elite players and officials who rely on football as a source of income.
The FAM Executive Committee recently took the decision to review the FAM Task Force report on the Impact of COVID-19 on Malawi football and recommended mitigation measures.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said that among those to benefit from the special fund were Super League club players and team officials, Women’s Football Regional League teams and elite referees.
He disclosed that FAM intended to use FIFA Special Projects funding for 2020, amounting to US$400,000, for the Special Relief Fund.
“FAM will offer monthly stipends to the above-mentioned beneficiaries of not less than minimum wage as prescribed by Malawi Government,” Nyamilandu said.
“We will, in collaboration with relevant authorities like clubs and associations, pay individual beneficiaries direct to their personal accounts between June and July. The Relief Fund will be assessed on a month-to-month basis by the task force to determine the extent and continuation of the support. In the event that the situation normalises, FAM will withdraw the funding, but after giving notice to the beneficiaries. We will immediately write to FIFA to request for authorization to reallocate Special Projects funding for 2020 and upon FIFA’s approval, the disbursement will start in June,” Nyamilandu added.
Nyamilandu added that FAM would also bail out its member associations by increasing the yearly subventions they receive directly by 50 percent.
“Bearing in mind that affiliates’ principal sources of revenue have been adversely affected with the situation at hand, the committee resolved to release the funds earlier than planned.
These funds will henceforth be available from June. The subventions for Member Associations will come from the Operations Fund. In total FAM is expected to spend close to K350 million between June and December,” he said.
On the local scene, Zifa affiliates and clubs had already incurred pre-season expenses which they are likely to pay for again when the season starts and they would not be able to recover that money from the normal revenue streams.
A fortnight ago, Zifa acting vice-president and board member finance, Philemon Machana said they had written to their affiliates asking them to elaborate on the impact the pandemic was having on their members as they look at coming up with proper responses to address the crisis that has seen the country’s football season being put on hold.
He said they were engaging various partners whom they hoped would come on board and provide the appropriate assistance needed by the affiliates.
Machana said they had been in conversation with regional compatriots, continental football mother body, Caf and world governing body Fifa, on how they could ease the impact of the virus on the sport.
“We wrote to our affiliates asking how the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have affected them as we seek a comprehensive response that will ease the burden on them and their clubs. There are various ways clubs could have been impacted and this includes loss of income as income from revenue streams such as gate takings dry up, some sponsorships may be halted while expenses such as salaries, rentals might still be in place,” he said.
“It is the same with us as Zifa, we already had the Chan team in camp and the U-20 Mighty Warriors were already close to a month in training and had born expenses relating to that but when the games are re-fixtured we have to bear the same expenses again,” he said.
Machana said the correspondence from their affiliates would determine how they would continue conversations with their partners on the shape the assistance they will dole out will take.
He said the recent financial package announced by Fifa that would be released to associations was not part of a Covid-19 bailout fund but meant to meet the “normal operational budgets”.
Zifa, and 210 other associations are earmarked to get US$500 000 each from Fifa.
The payment is the second instalment of operational costs for 2020 which was due to be handed out in July, but Fifa were due to make an early payment.
“It is just an early payment of the normal operational funds that we should have received in July and not an additional fund to fight Covid-19. It will not be directed to affiliates or clubs but if we feel there is a surplus that can go to assisting them then we can engage Fifa and request permission to divert the funds to other uses other than the intended ones,” he said.