How KPL deals with low fan base, sponsors withdrawal - Daily Nation

How KPL deals with low fan base, sponsors withdrawal

Saturday March 31 2018


Kenya Premier League Ltd chief executive officer Jack Oguda takes questions from reporters at a past event. Oguda said no investment has been seen on youth football in Kenya. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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In this interactive series, we invite our readers to send in questions to select public figures.

Answers will be published in the next print and online editions. This week, Kenya Premier League Ltd chief executive officer Jack Oguda responds to your questions:

1. You recently penned an article in the Daily Nation explaining how lack of funding is negatively impacting on football in the country. How can financing for our clubs be done sustainably in the current circumstances, especially after the new tax on betting and gaming companies, which has scared some to the point of reconsidering the level of sponsorship of sports, generally, in Kenya?

Komen Moris, Eldoret

Kenyan sports has never been taken seriously, yet sports worldwide is a multibillion shilling industry.

This is quite unfortunate, especially because we have very many superstars.

The Kenya Premier League (KPL) has previously enjoyed good partnerships with our media and broadcast rights partners who supported the league and clubs.

There are several economic sectors that can be exploited by the league and clubs although the emergence of gaming companies had really helped the league and clubs meet their obligations.

With the law on tax in place, the clubs have to look at the other economic sectors and commercialise through merchandising, increase their fan base, sell replica jerseys, engage fans with a view of generating additional income (season tickets) and change the matches to a match day event that happens from morning to evening.

2. How is the Mediapro deal with KPL going to help grow the local football standards and attract sponsors? What considerations did KPL have before settling on the Spanish firm?

Ali Hassan, Nairobi

Mediapro is a reputable provider of the equipment and services for the coverage of the league and is known for producing international sports events, with a special focus on football coverage.

Mediapro was fronted by our strategic partner La Liga after signing of the MoU on May 2017 to help us develop the KPL brand to boost the visibility (HD quality) of the league and to create a strong brand presence.

This partnership will help KPL generate a sponsorship plan concerning the advertising and commercial exploitation of the league.

3. Has KPL ever had to deal with transgender issues in football, particularly where women are involved? If yes, how did you deal with it? Are there any precautions or set of rules that protects them against discrimination?

Eunice Nthenya

The KPL only runs and manages men’s professional football and is an affiliate of Football Kenya Federation (FKF), who are the member-association recognised by Fifa.

However, Kenyan football is bound by the Fifa Statutes Article 4, which states that “non-discrimination, gender equality and stance against racism discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin colour, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, disability, language, religion, political or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion”.

4. What measures is KPL's top brass putting in place to improve the standard of officiating in the league and end perennial complaints by football clubs about biased officiating of matches?
Andrew Ratemo, Malindi

The referees are governed by the FKF constitution, the FKF recognised association for Football Referees and Article 49 Referees Committee.

The committee is tasked to implement the laws of the game, appoint the referees, organise refereeing matters and monitor the education and training of referees.

In addition, KPL ensures that referees’ assessment forms are submitted after every match by the commissioners and clubs.

The secretariat then prepares a reliable performance ranking of referees for reference and use by the Match Officials Appointment Committee and FKF.

The league has contracted a referees’ analyst, who is Fifa-accredited and who attends matches where complaints have been registered to give an independent assessment.

5. Last year, Sportpesa – the main sponsor of KPL – withdrew their sponsorship citing a tax increase by the government. How does that impact on the running of KPL? What alternatives does KPL have?

Abass Maalim Katte

Sportpesa terminated its contract with KPL and currently, the league has no naming rights partner.

The lack of sponsorship affects the running of the league and by extension some clubs that depend highly on the grants that come from the broadcast and naming rights.

We are sourcing for sponsorships and the ongoing partnerships have been able to keep the company afloat.

It is not easy to realise sponsorships within a very short time since SportPesa withdrew on January 2018.

However, it is encouraging that the league is ongoing and we are on TV week in, week out.

The clubs have shirt sponsorships and can honour their matches.

Also, early this year the government promised to support all sports affected by the withdrawal of gaming companies. This, however, has not happened in our case.

6. There have been reports that Star Times and Azam TV gave an offer to televise live KPL matches and KPL declined. Could you clear the air over this matter? Without an official broadcaster, what is KPL doing to ensure football standards grow and fans get to know the league’s performances?

Austin Oduor, Migori

The league on November 16, 2017 called for tenders for the Media Rights and the winning bid was by Star Times who gave an offer to KPL.

Their offer was later withdrawn on January 2018 due to the terms in the agreement and we had to restrategise and had to negotiate with the local Free-to-Air (FTA) stations to ensure that we continue to have exposure.

The league has not received any offer from Azam TV.

7. It is often disheartening to see former footballers languishing in poverty after they hang up their boots. Many former footballers like Julius Owino ‘Awilo’ cannot even put food on the table. What is KPL doing to ensure the players live decent lives after their playing days? Have you thought of setting up a welfare fund to help the former players stand on their feet?

Sospeter Wafula, Vihiga

In 2010, KPL made a decision that all players must have contracts.

This was the first step to ensure that all players’ rights were taken care of and clubs had an obligation to meet.

The league has always ensured that club vs player disputes are handled by the Independent Disciplinary and Appeals Committee and we have since seen a reduction of exploitation of players by the clubs.

There is the FKF recognised association for football players, Kenya Footballers Welfare Association.

They are also an affiliate of FIFPro, the global representative organisation for professional footballers whose headquarters is in Hoofddorp, The Netherlands.

8. KPL referees have been accused of fixing matches allegedly after being bribed. What do you have to say on such allegations? If the bribery allegations were to be true, what could be the cause of such?

Geoffrey Oyoo

As you have clearly stated, these are allegations and we have not received any tangible evidence.

KPL has a zero tolerance policy against corruption and bribery and anyone found culpable shall be banned for life from Kenyan football and also be reported to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

9. Besides matches involving Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards, stadiums are always virtually empty except for the players, the coaching staff and a handful security personnel. Without fans in the stadium, would that be a recipe for behaviours that undermine the game such as match-fixing? What are you doing to ensure more Kenyans attend live matches?

Bernard Walala, Busia

The fan attendance has been dwindling over the past two years and there are several factors that led to this, some of which have been addressed.

KPL has over the years ensured that the clubs attend workshops with the best leagues in the world to see first-hand the best practices in the top leagues.

At the moment, we have now improved the product that appears on our screens and have increased the reach of the league through FTA, adopted minimum standards for the stadia in regards to safety and security and currently working on a partnership that can generate more income to help change the match day to a whole day’s event.

10. What impact did the decision by CAF to withdraw the 2018 CHAN championship have on Kenyan football development?

Irungu Moses, Nairobi

This had a negative impact on football as it was the second time this was happening, and as a nation we require stadiums that can host international football events.

We clearly do not take football seriously as a country.

The revenue that would have been generated would have boosted the economy and we would have created jobs for the youth besides getting four new and/or upgraded stadiums that would have enabled us bid for other international competitions.

11. Age group football is still very nascent among Kenyan clubs and some do not even have academies to develop their own talent. Instead, clubs wait for secondary school ball games to pick players who they also do not pay well. Even when they do, they only attend the school games at national level meaning that no one bothers to check out the potential of some good players whose schools did not make it to the nationals. How can this situation be reversed?

Mwangi Njoroge, Nyeri

I agree with you that we need to work towards having a foolproof development structure on all age group football entrenched within the schools’ curriculum that grows into amateur football right to professional football.

12. The wrangles between KPL and FKF have almost become an annual ritual and were cited by SuperSport when they withdrew their sponsorship of the local league. What is usually behind these wrangles and can the two work for the good of football in the country?

Onesmus Wakahiu, Murang’a

The FKF and KPL have a working agreement that clearly stipulates the obligations of each party.

Anything contrary to the agreement is what brings about the wrangles.

13. What is ailing our local clubs when it comes to CAF competitions?

Ali Hassan, Nairobi

For any successful team, there is need for strong grassroots structures and/or youth development within the club setup to focus on players from the tender age of Under-12 to the senior team.

We have failed in this and no investment has been seen on youth football in Kenya.

14. Given that all the stadiums within Nairobi are currently undergoing renovation forcing clubs to seek venues elsewhere, is there anything KPL is doing to compensate the clubs who now have to travel far to play their home games? In your view, what impact has the closure of the Nairobi stadia had on attendance of matches by fans?

Joe Kilonzo, Kitui

The closure of the three stadiums in Nairobi (Kasarani, Nyayo and City stadia) has greatly affected the fan attendance for the matches.

This has a serious impact on the league and clubs budgets because they incur additional expenses on officiating, accommodation, transport and meals among others.