The Kenyan Premier League is set to commence this weekend with teams from across the country challenging for the most prestigious award in Kenyan football.
One thing, however, is not certain; Sponsorship. Last season’s league sponsors Sportpesa canceled their sponsorship following a disagreement with the government over taxation. Sportpesa had their licenses withdrawn by the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) over alleged tax evasion claims by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
Sportpesa’s exit has not only affected the league but individual football clubs as well. Already, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards, the country’s biggest clubs, are already feeling the pinch of the pull-out.
These clubs are yet to find a sponsor even though the new season is already here. We saw AFC Leopards ask for help from its fans through a pay bill number. Gor Mahia seem to be working fine without the sponsorship but for how long can they keep up doing so?
Lack of sponsorship will drag Kenyan Football down to the ground. If the entire league fails to secure a sponsor by half-season then the future of Kenyan football will be in turmoil. The league directors are positive they will get a sponsor by half-season but they have not received any reply from the organisations they wish to get sponsorship from.
“So far no one has gotten back to us in regards to sponsorship but we have engaged over 25 companies who have shown interest in partnering with us. It’s a process that might take time but we are hopeful by midseason we will have a sponsor on board,” Jack Oguda, the KPL CEO, said.
It is not the first time that the league is lacking a sponsor. First, it was Pay-TV channel SuperSport who pulled out as the league’s title sponsors two years ago. The South African broadcaster did a lot to promote the league, but after they left, KPL never found another broadcast partner.
KPL has never found a broadcast partner ever since Supersport left. However, there is a high probability that they may find one as there are local broadcasters who can step in. This includes the newly developed Madgoat TV which used to broadcast Wazito FC’s matches last season.
With Wazito now in the KPL, Madgoat will definitely broadcast its matches. There is a high probability it will broadcast all KPL matches in the near future. However, the priority for KPL right now is not to get a broadcast partner but rather a sponsor.
If the league directors fail to secure a sponsor by half-season, KPL will go to its old worst situation of walk-overs and non-payment of referees. It is now time for the Federation of Kenyan Football (FKF) to step in and ensure that the league does not collapse.
The league is already financially crippled, without money it cannot run for long. The Kenyan Premier League desperately needs sponsorship.