Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba claims ‘a deal has been struck’ with SA-based media giant MultiChoice for the return of live broadcasts of Kenyan Premier League (KPL) games to SuperSport – the leading continental sports broadcaster.
According to Namwamba, he expects the live broadcasts to begin by the end of the ongoing 2022/23 season. He made the disclosure while speaking to journalists in Rarieda, Siaya County on Monday, December 26 after watching a friendly match between 19-time KPL champions Gor Mahia and Rarieda Combined XI.
Also present for the match was Ababu’s ICT counterpart Eliud Owalo, who emphasized the need to promote grassroots sporting talent. MultiChoice was yet to respond to queries from Business Today on the potential return to Kenyan football by the time of publication.
Top-flight football in Kenya has been wallowing in financial struggles following the exits of multiple broadcasters and sponsors over the past few seasons – among them SportPesa, StarTimes, BetKing and SuperSport. Coupled with mismanagement and wrangles that led to Kenya’s months-long suspension by FIFA, the game in Kenya has been in a quagmire prompting the government to commit to various interventions. The FIFA suspension was lifted in November following a deal brokered by Namwamba that allowed Football Kenya Federation (FKF) officials to return to Kandanda House, with the exception of FKF president Nick Mwendwa who agreed to stay away from the federation until the case against him is concluded.
Broadcasting cash remains the most important revenue source for top-flight football across the world, and therefore the return of SuperSport would be welcomed by many clubs which in recent years have struggled to even pay salaries of players and technical staff.
SuperSport exited the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) in 2017 after operating in the country for a decade. At the time, it clashed with the Nick Mwendwa-led FKF over ‘foul play’ by the federation, which was keen on taking over management of the league from KPL Limited after the expiry of the company’s contract and expansion of the league to include two more teams – which would mean more matches to be aired – throwing the original broadcasting deal into disarray.
StarTimes, a Chinese-owned MultiChoice rival, acquired the rights in 2020 but left after just one year with fingers pointed at the federation over fiscal mismanagement. The pay-TV firm had signed had signed a seven-year contract worth Ksh860M with FKF, which several clubs initially rejected.
Namwamba’s announcement sparked excitement online among fans of Kenyan football who have been craving easier access to top-flight fixtures. Hawk-eyed fans had earlier noticed the presence of a production company which produces live broadcasts of the Ethiopian Premier League for SuperSport at Gor Mahia’s last KPL clash with Bandari, further fueling speculation.
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