In less than 10 days, the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) is scheduled to kick off with the future looking bleak. This is after league sponsors SportPesa announced they are cancelling all their sponsorships following a disagreement with the government over taxation. The announcement has left many clubs worried about their viability.
Already, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards, the country’s biggest clubs, are already feeling the pinch of the pull-out. But the blame for this worrisome situation should go to football administrators at clubs and Football Kenya Federation, who are yet to start living in the modern world of sports marketing and hence do not have the wherewithal to get more sponsors on board, even when it is crystal clear that players and football cannot grow through hype and rhetoric.
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.
At this rate, the worry is that the league, which is already financially-crippled, will go to its old worst situation of walk-overs and non-payment of referees. Perhaps, now is the time for FKF to step in and ensure that the league does not collapse. But where is the money to do that? The league is supposed to revert to the federation next year from the managing company Kenyan Premier League, but there may be no time to wait.