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AFC Leopards' rut due to outmoded management

Monday September 23 2019

Malian striker Ismaila Diarra (left) with AFC Leopards chairman Dan Shikanda during the unveiling on July 21, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY

Malian striker Ismaila Diarra (left) with AFC Leopards chairman Dan Shikanda during the unveiling on July 21, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY  

JOHN ASHIHUNDU
By JOHN ASHIHUNDU
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As we continue celebrating our three vital points obtained after silencing heavy spending Wazito 1-0 at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega on Saturday, we need to start developing a concrete management strategy for our beloved club.

All my life I have been an ardent supporter of AFC Leopards and it pains me to see how far we have fallen. From being equals with the likes of Asante Kotoko in the 1980s to barely making it in the KPL presently.

The main problem is that while soccer long shifted from being just a sport to being serious corporate business in many parts of the world, we are still managing this great game on volunteer and social basis.

TP Mazembe of DRC is a very good African example on how football should be managed. At this great club, it is business 101 right from the academy, club stadium, strong corporate shareholding, serious brand that has sponsors scrambling over each other to invest at Mazembe.

Meanwhile, at the Den we are stuck at dealing football based on community goodwill only, attracting low cadre supporters. I have a raft of proposals that can turn AFC Leopards into a serious sustainable business that needs not to solicit for Sh10 from fans. AFC should transit from a society to a limited company with share option. If a billionaire is willing to put in Sh1 billion and become a majority shareholder so be it.

The rich will not come anywhere near the current model. Let those with money own the club while those without shout for the club. Shift from a Luhya FC to a national and regional club with following even in Luo Nyanza. How? By developing a new brand especially around results and the kind of soccer that is played.

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Bringing in shrewd investors who will translate the business philosophy at the den and we will have competent people running the club. Being a former player alone must never be a qualification.

Develop long term strategic and business plans that demonstrate professionalism. This is a sure attraction to key stakeholders like government, corporates and wealthy individuals. The objective is to mobilise enough funds to attract quality professional players that will soar the club to continental play-offs. A quarter-final slot at a Caf competition alone attracts serious pay cheque not to mention the promotions and sponsorship doors that this opens.

I dream of a day when AFC Leopards will have this kind of visionary management; with their own academy, stadium and engaging quality players from all over Africa.

Otherwise a recently launched *417# number for fans to key in on their cellular phone to send their contribution is child play and sign of lack of vision and business acumen by the current bunch of leaders at the Den.

A salary of Sh1 million per month can get AFC top African players who also are a potential major revenue stream with their sale to top clubs as they perform at continental levels.

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