KATHMANDU, May 26: Though All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) claims the Nepali league structure to be semi-professional, most of the clubs lack regular sources of income and are yet to turn professional.
Almost every A Division club from the Kathmandu Valley is paying Rs 15,000 to Rs 50,000 per month to a Nepali player, while foreign players are paid 500 to 1,200 dollars.
Most clubs were found to have estimated budgets of Rs 4 million to Rs 12 million for their league campaigns. However, clubs except New Road Team (NRT), Ranipokhari Corner Team (RCT), Friends Club, Samsung Jawalakhel and the departmental teams do not have regular income source to maintain their expenditure.
Clubs like Koilapani Polestar and United Youth are struggling to continue their league campaigns as they failed to get sponsors and adequate budget for the ongoing Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League.
On the other hand, big names of the A Division have acquired sponsorships and donations in their current league campaigns. However, their survival could be challenged if they don´t find a regular source of income soon.
"It is difficult to survive in the long term without a regular income source. Players are turning professional and demanding high fees while the expenditure for establishing training camps is also getting higher," said Mega Three Star Club President Lalit Krishna Shrestha.
"We cannot run clubs with an old mindset, and so we are bracing for a change," added Shrestha, also an ANFA vice-president.
According to Shrestha, his club is planning to build a club house with a business complex in Lalitpur to ensure regular income.
Yeti Himalayan Sherpa Club is also planning something along the same lines. "As a new club, we were building goodwill till now, but from now on we will focus on building infrastructure and income-generating projects," said club President Karma Chhiring Sherpa.
Meanwhile, Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club has different projects to maintain its expenditure. "The club has started apple farming in Manang district in association with Manang Sewa Samiti and is sharing revenue from the sales of herbs in the district," said MMC official Kumar Bhattarai. "We´ll get Rs 4 to 5 million per year from this project in the years to come," he added.
G-Five Machhindra Club used to raise money from lotteries but it is facing financial crunch after the government banned clubs from running such projects. "We are running the club with donations from locals but we´ll look for other ways in future," said President Sunil Kapali.
RCT and NRT, who rent their club houses in prime locations of Kathmandu for income, are not bothered much.
"We are able to survive in the A Division as we have a club house as our regular income source," said RCT President Bijay Narayan Manandhar.
"We earn Rs 10 million per year by renting club´s properties and we are not endorsing any sponsorship proposal, which gives us less than 40 percent of our annual expenditure," said NRT General Secretary Binay Pradhan.
Koilapani Polestar said it could quit the ongoing league any time as it is facing financial crunch. In this scenario, the clubs need to to plan and act immediately so as to ensure regular income to meet their expenditures.