By ROBIN TOSKIN
And in an exclusive interview with FeverPitch, Rathbone shares his insights about the KPL, his proudest moments including the first ever Gor Mahia versus AFC Leopards eternal derby on Supersport TV and his lowest point in Kenya.
Rathbone will end his romance with the KPL at the end of this month, four years since being appointed to the position to develop Supersport’s broadcast properties in six countries namely Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Angola, Zambia and Kenya.
“It has been largely a fulfilling challenge. Seeing all the gains Supersport has made in Africa fills me with pride,” Rathbone told FeverPitch in an exclusive interview.
“The future of Kenyan Premier League is very bright. When I took up this job my mandate was to revitalise these leagues, including KPL, making them an attractive and exciting proposition to fans, the media and sponsors in their own countries and beyond. He added: “In doing so, rebuild their equity as valuable sports TV properties on our continent.”
When the KPL history is written, a chapter will be reserved for the South African journalist who maintained unrivalled belief in the prospect of the Kenyan Premier League at a time when interest from fans, sponsors and local media was at its all-time low.
Rathbone, however, declines to take the plaudits saying, “It took many people to bring the league to where it is now, particularly club officials and owners who wanted it to succeed.”
“What I did was to put in place an enabling environment. It excites me now that the fans are back to the stadiums. Most of the Premier League clubs now have sponsors, a sign that the league is heading to the right direction.”
His proudest moments were the elections that finally brought to an end the wrangling with the local federation.
“It was sapping everyone’s energy. But after the elections, and seeing Football Kenya Federation and KPL coming together I felt Kenya had overcome the biggest stumbling block. Together they can now move forward, hopefully to greater things,” said Rathbone.