While others endorse it as positive move, some have questioned its legality with Nick Mwendwa’s tenure already expired.
Football Kenya Federation president (FKF) Nick Mwendwa’s invite to Kenyan Premier League (KPL) chairmen for next Wednesday’s online meeting to discuss the finer details of the recently unveiled Sh1.2 billion BetKing sponsorship deal has generated mixed reactions from football stakeholders.
Though this is a huge relief to the topflight league, which has been struggling financially since SportPesa withdrew their title sponsorship in August 2019, questions abound on the legality of the five-year deal announced by Mwendwa on Thursday.
While Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier, AFC Leopards’ Dan Shikanda, Sofapaka’s Elly Kalekwa and Kakamega Homeboyz’s Cleophas Shimanyula are all worried of the legal implications of the deal shrouded in secrecy, Tusker chairman Dan Aduda and his Western Stima counterpart Laban Jobita have termed it a ‘positive’ move.
The deal will see the Nigerian-based betting firm become the official title sponsors of the topflight league effective September 24 when KPL Limited’s current contract to manage the league elapses as its headquarters move to Goal Project offices at Kasarani Stadium. The clubs are expected to receive at least Sh8 million annually until 2025.
“In light of the aforementioned, and the need to better understand the finer details of the BetKing sponsorship deal and how the league will be run and managed post KPL, my office wishes to invite you for a zoom meeting on Wednesday July 22, 2020 at 10am,’’ read a letter signed by Mwendwa addressed to KPL club chairmen.
“Additionally, in the coming days the FKF CEO Mr. Barry Otieno will contact you in regard to your club bank account details, to enable the federation disburse funds in a timely manner.’’
However when contacted, Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier, who doubles up as KPL chairman, said he will make an informed decision on whether to attend the meeting or not.
“As a football leader and KPL chairman, I have never heard of BetKing betting company or seen anything about it before I saw a tweet from Mr Mwendwa then read in the dailies,” Rachier told Standard Sports.
“I only know of the Kenyan Premier League of which I’m the chairman, but I don’t know about the FKF Premier League. We’ve a running contract with FKF to run the league until September 24 2020.
He continued: “I’ve not yet received the invitation letter, but I don’t want to say anything about the meeting because those things have got legal implications. You just don’t jump because there is money and you can’t just snub without understanding anything. In the first place we thought such a contract needed the participation of the clubs. There are a bit of confusion that we need to clarify, who is the FKF Premier League and what’s the Kenyan Premier League.
“Finally, we need to understand what the legal implications are before we can make the decision,” Rachier said.
AFC Leopards chairman Dan Shikanda and Kakamega’s Cleophas Shimanyula seconded Rachier’s opinion.
“It’s important for us to understand the details and the benefits of the deal to the clubs first. If it’s real then it’s a good deal. But why are starting on a wrong foot in terms of understanding who is running the league. Let’s not burn bridges but understand each other. I hope this is not a political tool,” they said.
“There could be some legal implications. I know now it will be you either play in this league or you miss the money.”
However for Tusker’s Dan Aduda and Stima’s Laban Jobita this is big reprieve to the clubs.
“Keeping politics aside, I think it’s definitely a positive move for the clubs. We are going to have a better season than what we had last year,” said Aduda.
“In general, that’s a very good step and I believe we are going to get more than that. I’m happy even if I have lost a sponsor, I need to start with that one before getting others,” added Jobita.