Lyenette Matheka @PeopleSports11
Football stakeholders can now breathe easy after giant betting firm SportPesa yesterday made a u-turn to resume sponsorship of four main football entities over a period of three years. The move comes a few days after the National Treasury reviewed taxation on the companies.
Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards will see the firm come on board as their main sponsors albeit for a reduced amount while the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) has welcomed the company as its title sponsor. Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has also entered into a three-year partnership with SportPesa with the aim of further developing the standards of local football.
The company will give FKF Sh69 million which will go towards the FKF Cup which will now be known as the SportPesa Shield while they will also resume their title sponsorship of the Kenyan Premier League for a tune of Sh259 million over the same period.
Kenya champions K’Ogalo will be sponsored to the tune of Sh198 million while their arch-rivals Ingwe will earn a sponsorship of Sh156mn over three years. “We have had to come back with reduced packages for the four entities and we also decided to choose which disciplines to support as the taxation has remained the same and had to go with what we can sustain,” said Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri.
Since January, most KPL clubs have suffered due to lack of funds with some of the clubs nearly closing shop as players and technical benches went unpaid for months since most of the 18 premier teams lack other sponsors. “We thank SportPesa for coming back despite the taxation tussle.
It has been really hard for all clubs and the absence of a title sponsor has really taken a toll on most clubs and despite the reduced amount we appreciate,” said KPL chairperson Ambrose Rachier. In the previous five year deal that the firm had penned down with KPL, every club was befitting to a tune of Sh 600,000 every month to aid in logistics in that month’s fixture as well as cater for the allowances of the playing unit.
With the reduced amount, it is not yet clear how the breakdown will be done. Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia has indicated that inclusion of the ministry in signing the said deals will ensure accountability calling on other corporates to jin Sportpesa for the good of the sport.
Meanwhile, the betting firm has also announced that English football club Hull City’s first team is set to tour Kenya with the visit aimed at exposing local players to international competition and increasing their exposure on the world football scene.
The team that will face Hull City will be decided at the KPL Mashemeji Derby where AFC Leopards will face off with Gor Mahia on May 1 at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru. The winner will book a date with the Nigel Adkins-led side on May 11 at Kasarani. However, it remains a doubt whether Kasarani will be ready to host the match as works are still ongoing.