Cash-strapped Gor Mahia F.C has announced plans to establish an investment vehicle that will allow members to purchase shares and enjoy returns on their investment. It is looking to rope in a joint venture partner to facilitate the plan.
The move is part of a new fund-raising strategy to ensure the club gets back on its feet. Other pillars of the plan include soliciting funds from supporters and well-wishers, with the club unveiling yet another mobile money pay-bill number for contributions to be channeled. It is not the first time Gor Mahia has asked their fans to bail them out.
The giants of Kenyan football, and the only East African side with a continental title, have in recent years been viewed as a case study of how not to run a football club. The club has struggled to pay salaries to players and staff members, losing many of its best players as a result.
The reigning league champions have also struggled to honor international fixtures in the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup due to poor planning and lack of air tickets, a situation that has seen them regularly bailed out by different individuals and bodies including former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, the Ministry of Sports, deep-pocketed fans and well-wishers.
While their regional peers such as Tanzania’s Simba SC have found their footing on the continental scene and achieved enviable financial stability, the story of Gor Mahia remains depressing to many fans of Kenyan football who dream of seeing the club take its rightful place among the continent’s elite.
Club Chairman Ambrose Rachier in the statement issued on Monday, June 27 acknowledged the challenges facing the club, noting that they had been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The suspension of access for spectators in stadiums has hit clubs such as Gor Mahia, which count gate collections as a major revenue stream, quite hard.
“Having studied various financial models adopted by some successful football clubs around the globe, (the executive committee) has resolved to adopt a hybrid of some of these bench marks and to roll out a fundraising scheme that should ensure the financial sustainability of the club in future,” Rachier wrote.
Under the scheme, the main source of funds shall primarily be the club members, supporters, and any other well-wishers. With the new designated Safaricom pay-bill unveiled, supporters, members, and well-wishers were encouraged to make monthly contributions of sums they see fit.
On the decision to create a corporate entity fans can buy into, Rachier stated: “In due course the club shall establish and launch a vehicle into which members shall be invited to invest, have a stake in and get returns from. Consideration will be given to a partnership with a joint venturer.”
In leagues such as Germany’s Bundesliga, fans have retained ownership in their clubs by being registered members, thanks to the 50+1 rule which stipulates that, should a football club outsource its professional football operation into a separate limited company, as most German clubs have done, the parent club must retain 50% of the voting shares in that company, plus one share. A number of clubs in the Tanzanian Premier League including Simba SC and Yanga are on the verge of adopting a similar policy.