Kenyan football is staring at a bleak future after Mathare United became the latest FKF Premier League outfit to be rocked by financial constraints.
For the first time in 28 years, Mathare United are set to fail to honour a top flight league fixture.
Club chairman Bob Munro yesterday, through a letter, laid bare the dire situation the 2008 champions are facing even as he dropped the bombshell that the Slum Boys will not play today’s match against visiting Bandari.
Munro cited their current financial constraints as the reason for issuing the walkover.
“Today is a sad day in the 35-year history of the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) and Mathare United FC (MUFC),” said Munro in the letter.
“lt’s an especially sad and even painful day for me and the MUFC staff, coaches, players and their families as well as for the tens of thousands of youth in the Mathare and neighbouring slums who dream of helping themselves and their families escape poverty by someday playing for Mathare United.”
The Slum Boys, who are rooted at the bottom of the table with 11 points are 16 points adrift of relegation safety.
He blamed their financial struggles on, among others, the FKF forced expansion of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) in February 2017, the related SuperSport termination of their KPL contract in March 2017 and Covid-19 pandemic which forced the league to be stopped for five months in 2020. Munro revealed that they have tried to secure sponsors this season in vain.
“Since 2018, we made serious proposals and held follow-up discussions with 48 companies in a wide range of sectors, including banking, insurance, airlines, energy and consumer goods. But only four signed contracts and three of them were betting companies,” he said.
Munro explained that the club has been negatively affected by supremacy battles between FKF and former league management body Kenya Premier League Limited followed by the recent suspension by Fifa.
“The increasingly negative publicity about FKF also discouraged many companies. The Fifa ban then made the already difficult financial situation of clubs even worse,” he said.
“Today, our team is only one among nearly half of our top clubs, especially our community-based clubs, which are now struggling with serious financial problems. To have financially stable and competitive clubs and top league, a rigorous rethinking, restructuring and commercially-minded reorientation of FKF and Kenyan football is clearly needed.” The club, under the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) which started some 35-years ago, has produced some of the best footballers in the country.
Mathare’s turmoil is just the tip of the iceberg with the problem deeply rooted across all leagues in the country including FKF PL, National Super League, Women’s Premier League and Division One Leagues.
In recent months, most clubs have been forced to turn to the FKF Caretaker Committee for financial boost after exhausting their coffers and are unable to fund their operations including paying staff salaries.
Mathare United has contributed immensely to Kenyan football since its formation in 1994 producing some of the best coaches and players on the land.
The club is credited with moulding the likes of Arnold Origi, Titus Mulama, Anthony Kimani and Adam Shaban among others.
Some of the top Kenyan coaches to have polished their tactical acumen at the club include Francis Kimanzi, Salim Ali, Stanley Okumbi, David Ouma and William Muluya.