SportPesa’s pull out plunges Leopards, Gor into financial dilemma
The announcement of betting firm SportPesa’s cancellation of all sports sponsorship in Kenya has thrown local football clubs AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia into financial crisis.
Both clubs, which are sponsored by SportPesa, are now looking at an uncertain future, what with local and continental assignments to be honoured in the yet to start 2018 season.
Even before SportPesa made the formal announcement, Leopards had indicated that it would not honour its continental engagements this year, in the event of the betting firm’s pull out.
In a statement on New Year’s day, club chairman Dan Mule also expressed fear that the club’s other activities could ground to a halt in the not so distant future.
“I can put it here on record that without the backing of SportPesa, the club will not be able to pay salaries and play in continental assignments,” said Mule.
Mule, who explained that SportPesa’s sponsorship helps offset about 70 percent of the club’s monthly Sh6.5 million bill, is now pleading with the government to put on hold the implementation of the new tax regime imposed on SportPesa and other betting companies to allow for dialogue.
“It is with this background that I urge the government to put on hold the implementation of the new tax regime on betting companies in order to facilitate the convening of a stakeholders meeting as soon as possible to discuss the crisis in the sporting arena,” he said.
Leopards are set to play against Malagasy side FOSA Juniors in the first week of February in the preliminaries of the Caf Confederation Cup.
Similarly, Kenyan champions Gor Mahia are set to compete in the African Champions League this season, with an assignment against Equatorial Guinea side Leones Vegetarianos in the preliminary phase.
Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier says the club is considering the resumption of selling branded bread and having a Paybill number emblazoned on the team jerseys should SportPesa also pull the plug on its sponsorship deal with the club.
“The sports industry is a latent giant, let us not waste this opportunity to develop it by repelling investors from the industry. I therefore plead with the government to rethink this move which will sound a death knell to this very promising industry,” Rachier said.