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Betting firms stay put: Lotto and Betika yet to make decision on next course of action

FOOTBALL By Gilbert Wandera | January 4th 2018

SportPesa pulled out its sports sponsorship, citing high taxes imposed by government.

Betting firms Lotto and Betika have adopted a wait-and-see attitude before announcing their next course of action on the 35 per cent tax increase.

Lotto Foundation is the shirt sponsor of Kenyan Premier League (KPL) side Posta Rangers and also sponsor a number of athletic races in the country while Betika are the shirt sponsors of KPL outfit Sofapaka.

“It is too early for us to announce our next move. We prefer to weigh the situation first before we make our move, probably in the next few days,” said officials from the two firms who asked not to be named.

SportPesa on Tuesday pulled out its sports sponsorship, saying the 35 per cent tax imposed by the Government was too high.

The betting firm was the shirt sponsor of Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards and also the title sponsor of KPL.

It also sponsored the Football Kenya Federation, Kenya Rugby Union (KRU), and the Boxing Association of Kenya, among other sporting activities.

KRU said it was dismayed by the cancellation of its sponsorship deal by SportPesa.

KRU said in a statement that SportPesa was a key partner in their planning and growth.

“It now forces us to completely re-examine our structures and we immediately call upon the Government to step into and provide the necessary support as guided by the Sports Act,” said the statement.

The union further pointed out that a number of their events would be affected by the development.

“Our 2018 calendar includes the Rugby Africa Championships for our U20s in April, Lionesses’ participation at the HSBC Women’s Sevens World Series qualifiers in Hong Kong as well as the Commonwealth Games, and the Women’s Africa  Cup 7s in September.

Paul Odhiambo (right) of Sofapaka battles for the ball with Luke Ochieng of Poster Rangers during the Sportpesa premier league match at Afraha stadium on May 6,2017.Rangers won 1-0 .PHOTO:KIPSANG JOSEPH

“Simba, our National 15s team, will play in the Africa Gold Cup, which will serve as the African qualifiers for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The national 7s team will take part in the World Series between now and May and participate in the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April as well as the Rugby 7s World Cup in San Francisco in July,” KRU said.

FKF said SportPesa’s decision was regrettable.

“It’s a big blow to football development and sports in general as SportPesa are also sponsors in other fields. Unfortunately, it is the position we find ourselves in. We, however, remain optimistic that a solution will be found in good time,” said FKF President Nick Mwendwa.

Mwendwa added that while FKF supported the Government’s proposal to implement the national sports fund, it was important that the private sector be allowed to play its role in supporting sports development.

“The cancellation will have a huge impact on FKF’s developmental agenda as the Sh120 million received annually has been instrumental in the rolling out of key developmental activities.”

“In addition, the federation has in the recent past leveraged on SportPesa’s overseas partnerships to further develop the game,” Mwendwa said.

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