Betting company SportPesa has reportedly suspended their kit sponsorship deal with Kenyan Premier League giants Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.
According to SportPesa Chief Executive Ronald Karauri, the suspension takes effect immediately and shall only be called off when the two clubs fully deal with hooliganism. “Before we took over, the clubs had assured us that this has been dealt with but that is not the case. In this regard, we are suspending our sponsorship to the two clubs until the matter is dealt with,” Karauri was quoted on Goal.com.
Sportpesa in February signed a sponsorship deal with champions Gor Mahia estimated at Ksh50 million per season for five seasons. And another 40 million sponsorship deal with AFC Leopards on similar periods.
Betting firms have entered into the sports sponsorship market to help boost their prominence hence good for their businesses as they target football fans into betting. A report in February suggested that Gor Mahia and Sportpesa signed up a clause that defined the steps to be taken by the sponsors in case any incidences of hooliganism are seen.
“As league sponsors we are disappointed by the hooliganism and what it’s doing to our image,” added Ronald Karauri.
Football clubs in Kenya have struggled to attract corporate sponsorships in the recent past with critics arguing that hooliganism plays a huge role in hindering corporate entities to pump money into the business of sports.
Gor Mahia have found themselves into the mess again after their spectator entered the field of play and allegedly assaulted the Assistant Referee in front of Gor Mahia stewards. AFC on the other side failed to contain their players during a match between them and Ulinzi stars last Saturday at the Mumias Complex when both the fans and players protested against a penalty awarded to Ulinzi Stars.
Both clubs have had very turbulent financial times in the recent past and may likely get back there following the suspension. It remains to be seen whether the clubs managements will comment on the same, as it is no longer business as usual.