Kenya Premier League…finally of Age?

One year short of marking its 10th anniversary since it was formed the highest professional league for the game of football has seen what may be its best season so far.

KPL Logo – courtesy of www.kpl.co.ke



And in 2012….
The 2012 season started with the new office running Football Kenya Federation after years of bickering and court proceedings finally gave way to a compromise agreement. The warring factions of Football Kenya Limited and Kenya Football Federation each contested the elections with other favoured contenders.Sam Nyamweya and his retinue started by stating they would not interfere with the Kenya Premier League, more out of fear of losing out TV rights and sponsorship from SuperSport than any good intentions.
With that KPL CEO Jaco Oguda and Co. set about to look for corporate sponsorship as well as ensuring that clubs in the league maintained a certain level of professionalism. Up until this season, the league had not secured a title corporate sponsor making operations at the KPL offices and wider mandate a challenging task. Interestingly many clubs in the league have managed to attract big money with the likes of AFC Leopards, Gor Mahia, Sofapaka and Thika United among others getting 3-5 year commitments from Kenyan corporate firms. And by a stroke of luck the former big teams who have yet to win the revamped KPL have performed fairly well with both AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia fighting to the last match hoping to be crowned winners. Reigning champs Tusker FC have also an outside chance of picking the silverware again dependent on the top 2 teams faltering.


SuperSport’s influence and other clubs’ rise
With these clubs along with mid-level teams such as Thika United, Sony Sugar, Chemelil Sugar making fairly good performances, the media sponsors SuperSport have ensured that the wider audience not able to attend the games in the various stadia get a snippet of the action – Remember SuperSport have made the biggest investment into the KPL through securing exclusive media rights. The SuperSport honchos signed an initial 3-year contract in 2008, before extending it to 5 years in 2010 to end in 2015.
In its first year of coverage, SuperSport screened 22 games which has risen by 300% to 90 games shown on SuperSport including a channel launched in 2011 specifically targeted to the region, SS9 EA. In addition to this local media personnel have been trained on live coverage, camera, web among other technical aspects of the trade.
Back to the league, in its 9 years since 2003, the Premier League has seen different teams emerge as new kids on the block with Ulinzi FC ( largely associated with Kenya’s Defense Forces) win the title 4 times (from 2003-5 and 2010), Tusker FC 2 times (2007 and 2011), Sony Sugar in 2006 and Sofapaka 2009. This has helped the League get wider appeal with each of these clubs getting its own followers. Still these clubs have not attracted the number of fans that traditional teams have seen for their games but it’s a work in progress.


Sell your Soul
In the 2012 season, finally the League did secure title sponsorship with Tusker, EABL’s flagship brand with a 3-year contract worth KSh. 170 million. Though widely celebrated across the country, its our belief that the KPL officials sold themselves cheap in the rush to obtaining the deal. Our thinking is informed by the fact that there were other suitors willing to associate with the game both in the drink brands and a few telcos whose balance sheets would only spot a slight blip. Again, the KPL officials are still learning the ropes of relating and associating with the corporate types in the country who still view sport as a recreational activity.
Another deal signed in the 2012 season, saw Puma secure the deal for supplying footballs to the clubs in the league. The deal is worth KSh.10 million though no real monetary value is attached to the deal, yet again raising concern of who negotiates these deals for KPL.
By now, those charged with seeking sponsorship and long-term deals for the League should ensure they argue their case and seek better deals for the game. They should also see even if the deals do not fully come with monetary benefits, the KPL secures some form of commitment from corporate firms that will see investment in the game.

Future Prospects
And as the 2012 season comes to a close, there are lots of areas that need to be worked on. These include the following;


Club management vis-a-vis KPL Agenda
Many clubs in the KPL are still run by officials who’s agenda is not entirely in the interest of the club or game.  There are also many charlatans in town seeking to run clubs while they can’t run a household to save their souls. In times to come, KPL should ensure that clubs adhere to a certain code of ethics when it comes to management and financial aspects. It will be in the best interests that a club’s promotion to the top flight comes with a certain sense of responsibility and accountability. Oh by the way, KPL books for the last 3 years should also in the public domain for those in the game to know what and how the League is run.

Security and Discipline
This is still a sticking point in many league games. This is especially the case for the big games among traditional foes. Though KPL puts the liability and responsibility on the clubs, it ought to wield wider influence and consult with security experts on how to manage crowds and game situations. The Disciplinary Committee should also come down heavily on any club or fans who display intolerance and commit repeat offences relating to crowd trouble and harassment of fans. This will make it attractive for the uninitiated fans and also traditional ones who are yet to step back in stadia to make that move. They should also vet security apparatus who’s personnel at times work in cahoots with the fans to either smuggle in illegal stuff or use fake tickets to enter various venues.
The same should be reciprocated by players on the pitch. Many a times we have seen footballers question the decisions made by the referees and some even result to physically abusing the officials. These incidences should become a rarity if KPL thoroughly and regularly trains the centre field officials along with club representatives.

Venues
Talking of venues, though it’s not KPL’s main concern to build infrastructure, they should impress upon local and regional authorities to make invest more in better infrastructure in the stadia, parking lots, training grounds and youth centres. In the upcoming system of county governance, those that seek to engage the youth and related activities will have a lead in attracting viable investments. We have seen many a housing projects come up with golfing estates, but it sure would also help if they had training grounds for football and other outdoor games. The same would be great for youth centres.

Financial and Legal Expertise
Though the KPL has officials who are experts in these fields, they need to engage more hands in both departments for the League to be able to develop strong and stringent mechanisms for clubs and those with the interest of the game to operate. Sponsorship deals secured on the cheap should become last resort not options explored and hastily signed. There also need to be consultations with those in the professions to provide training in sports finance and sports law.

Club Youth system
Famous clubs have made it a priority to invest in their youth development programs. It should be of urgency since many clubs are starting to attract talent from lower rung clubs but the reservoirs are not enough. The system will not only ensure continuity for the clubs but also see former and retiring footballers engaged in their favoured club activities instead of wasting away in destitution, drug abuse and alcoholism. It has worked in developed leagues such as Spain, Germany, Holland and now England. Investing in the club’s youth will also see a better national team from the under 12 all the way to the senior side for Harambee Stars.

And this is looking forward to a better league in 2013 and coming years…and raise a glass to the winners of the 2012 season !

Top 5 Kenya’s Football Clubs Social Media Ranking

Over the last week, there was a survey being conducted on Kenya’s listed companies and their use of social media. Along the same lines, we had a discussion with a pal about Kenyan sporting scene and the lack or minimal use of the social media space. While social media has exploded onto the scene in the last 3-5 years, local sports organisations and clubs are yet to realise the potent that this platform has.
A quick survey on online presence, visibility and regular updates and information regarding the clubs’ activities leaves a lot to be desired. Kenyan social media enthusiasts take up your roles and make this year a winning one for Kenyan sport on social media.

Tweep, can we play ball? image courtesy of www.flickr.com

This ranking was done on Facebook and Twitter which are the biggest social media platforms currently. Our non-scientific survey is based on clubs’ official pages, fan pages and ‘likes’ as well as official Twitter handles (or pages) and fans too. Since most clubs do not have an official page and even when they do, there are other duplicated ones, we shall aggregate each of these to the nearest 100th person/like( NB: These was as of 17th February 2012 based on Internet findings);

  1. Gor Mahia – An estimated 59,500 Likes on various Facebook pages. These range from official pages to fan pages to others like ‘Gor Mahia is not a club, its a lifestyle, but do we say?’ Their web-page’s www.gormahia.net – this site aggregates info on the club from other news sites and is quite basic. No links to Facebook or Twitter accounts. There are 3 Twitter pages linked to Gor Mahia @GOR_MAHIA – 108 followers, @Gor_MahiaFC – 99 followers and @Onegreenfamily – 289 followers bringing total to 596 followers
  2. AFC Leopards – An estimated 18,300 Likes on various Facebook pages also has wide range such as ‘ AFC Leopards Facebook Branch’. The club has a website www.afcleopards.net which is quite interactive. The site has a link to the Facebook and Twitter accounts and also has YouTube channel linked to SmartTV which went burst a few weeks ago. The club also has 4 different Twitter handles @afcleopards_SC – 316 followers, @afcleopards – 272 followers, @ingweleopards (fans page) – 628 followers and @AFC_Leopards – 43 followers totalling 1259 followers. 
  3. Sofapaka FC – with an estimated 5,100 Likes on Facebook pages, batoto ba Mungu’s football club is 3rd most visible club on social media. The club’s website www.sofapaka.com is also quite well-done and frequently updated. It also has Twitter page @SOFAPAKA with 98 followers and another unofficial one @Sofapaka_Kenya with 79 followers – 177 in total
  4. Ulinzi Stars FC – is at number 4 of the social media savvy football clubs. It has 2835 Likes on its Facebook page. Its Twitter handle is @UlinziStarsFC with 234 followers. It is without a website despite being one of the biggest clubs in the country and having a wide followership not just in the army ranks but with ordinary football fans.
  5. Mathare United FC – carries the top 5 of the football clubs on social media. It has a modest 2800 Likes on Facebook. The club has a website www.mathareunitedFC.co.ke which needs a bit of sprucing to meet the current season’s set-up and corporate identity. You can also access their details via www.mysakenya.org which is the parent company under which Mathare United FC was borne. Its Twitter handle @MathareunitedFC has 313 followers.

Do you Like what you see? – Image courtesy of www.facebook.com



Take Outs:

A lot of work needs to be done to these among other clubs which are featuring in the Kenyan Premier League. The League is also rapidly engaging with social media enthusiasts and fans alike and revamped its website at www.kpl.co.ke and also has a Twitter handle @KenyaPremierLg with 1,568 followers & 676 Likes on its Facebook page.
  • Constant review and regular updates are a must in social media where as they say, it’s not a monologue but an exchange of ideas between the clubs/management and the fans.
  • Competitive brand offers can be made every so often to increase visibility and have a sense of ownership to the followers and fans alike – e.g. AFC Leopards did engage some of its fans last season online and even managed to book flight tickets to a local game in Mombasa – brand loyalty anyone?
  • Instant feedback on ways to improve the clubs’ fortunes – from suggested playmakers to colours of the team, club management can use social media to have fans engage them instantly.
  • Sponsorships – many a clubs internationally have had sponsors who are willing to look beyond the usual streams of revenue to engage and entice users. Social media platforms can supplement to such campaigns and ensure sponsors have a wider audience and measurable means of showing success rate of the campaigns.
These are but a few points which Kenyan clubs and sports management specialists can learn from. Finally let’s look at the top 5 Football Social Media League as of December 2011;
  1. Barcelona-25,359,311 Facebook fans(27,030,540 Likes); 2,316,765 Twitter followers = 25,676,076 fans
  2. Real Madrid-22,182,985 Facebook fans( 24,876,778 Likes);2,872,018 Twitter followers = 25,055,003 fans
  3. Manchester United-20,269,260 fans (22,598,283 Likes); 102,773 Twitter followers= 20,269,200 fans
  4. Arsenal – 8,155,842 fans (8,989,136 Likes); 1,061,636 Twitter followers = 9,217,478 fans
  5. Chelsea – 7,885,970 fans (8,704,028 Likes); 501,375 Twitter followers = 8,387,345 fans
This shows you the power of social media. It’s free and its waiting for you, just LOG ON & GET GOING! 

Kenya Premier League 2012 Season comes alive…

For you the Kenyan football fan, the action is back on Kenyan pitches, this time with bigger and better oomph than ever.  Flurry of activity has been going on in the changing rooms as well as the technical benches for most of the teams. This year’s league retains the 16 team set up (though the lower previously known as Nationwide League now named Kenya Division One attracts 2 Zones Western & Eastern each with 16 teams).
New sides promoted include Muhoroni Youth who make a debut while Oserian (Fastac) make a comeback after being on the lower rungs for a few years. Dropping off were the 2 Coastal teams, Bandari and Congo United, which prompted a call by business leaders in Mombasa & Coastal region to rally around bringing back glory to the region’s teams.
Also one club City Stars changed names to Daima Stars after securing sponsorship from Daima Milk. From the transfer market, the following’s the top spendings Clubs & players;

  1. AFC Leopards – KSh. 835,000
  2. Gor Mahia – KSh. 670,000
  3. Ulinzi Stars – KSh. 420,000
  4. Tusker FC – KSh. 260,000
  5. Oserian – KSh.100,000
Most Expensive Players;
  1. Eric Masika  – KSh. 450,000 ( from Gor Mahia to AFC Leopards)
  2. Ivo Mapunda – KSh. 200,000 ( from Bandari to Gor Mahia)
  3. Kevin Amwayi – KSh. 200,000( from Western Stima to Ulinzi Stars)
  4. Wycliffe Ochono – KSh. 200,000 (from Gor Mahia to Ulinzi Stars)
  5. Abbasi Kiwalabye -KSh. 190,000 ( from Chemelil Sugar to AFC Leopards)
  6. Victor Ochieng – KSh. 190,000 ( from Chemelil Sugar to AFC Leopards)
  7. Hugo Nzangu – KSh. 150,000 ( from Sony Sugar to Gor Mahia)
  8. Patrick Kagogo – KSh.100,000 (from Sofapaka to Tusker)
  9. Peter Juma – KSh. 80,000 (from Karuturi Sports to Gor Mahia)
  10. Luke Ochieng – KSh. 75,000 ( from KCB to Tusker)
It shall be interesting to see which club’s spending has been justified and which one was a waste of the monies. Also there has been less buzz around corporate sponsors coming on board as most of those who had penned contracts had done 2-3 years/seasons.
Make a date with your favourite club and for more info check www.kpl.co.ke for more updates. 

Kenyan Football – Community-based Clubs :- Is this the best option?

Sometime back as we were talking about things sports, we started arguing about what ails Kenyan football (besides the usual leadership wrangles…) and somehow we kept drifting in and out of the potent issue of community-based clubs.
Well ‘community’ here is used quite liberally because in Kenya it is usually mistaken for tribal affiliation. The reasoning behind this argument was the fact that some of the clubs that have flourished in Kenya seem to come from certain communities while those that are started at the behest of company workers as extra-curricular activities usually don’t make headways. This is especially so for those sponsored by government bodies (parastatals if you like).

Community game? Image courtesy of www.firstgiving.com

We saw this happening in 2011 when a newly-promoted team Posta Rangers was suddenly left ‘thread-bare’ after their mother firm Postal Corporation of Kenya indicated they couldn’t continue supporting the team due to ‘limited sources of income’. This has been the case of others such as Kenya Airways, Kenya Railways, Motcom all which suffered the axe when public corporations were asked to streamline their activities and the first culprit is usually the ‘extra-curricular activities or sports departments’.
On the other side we have the ‘community’ clubs which enjoy fanatical support from various communities in the country. These include AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia. There was also Shabana which was relegated and disbanded but is some form of resurgency from unconfirmed sources.

Community Clubs;

  • enjoy numbers – fans of between 10,000-30,000 per match;
  • have some form of mythology – historical milestones;
  • less encumbered by corporate pressures – run by volunteers/elected officials
  • have wide berth for sponsorship opportunities

But these same clubs at times;

  • are ethnocentric – high ethnic identity detrimental to national club outlook;
  • have unpredictable financial situation 
  • highly emotive fans

My argument was the fact that if we’re to have community clubs then build them around certain regions and urban centres. This though is still not easy given the fact that most of the better placed clubs are usually based in Nairobi and Mombasa to some extent.
Given the new governance regions in the name of counties that we shall be having starting this year ( or when the national elections called), this would present a perfect basis to start developing such clubs. Each county could have a form of league from which the best 2-4 teams fight it for national honours. The finalists then would battle in a Western v/s Eastern regions grand finale. The top 22-23 teams would ultimately form the Kenya Premier League.
Out of about 47 counties, 20 of these have a semblance of stadia which can be renovated to ensure grassroot development of the talent from those counties. FKF (and Sports Stadia Management Board?…)seem to be heeding these calls with repair works on Kisumu’s Stadium and Eldoret Kip Keino Stadium in the pipeline. It would be imperative for FKF to point the FIFA Goal project in such directions and supplementing this with Government funds would serve as an alternative to youth development programs in the various centres.

Some may ask how the current teams would be absorbed? Simple! Ensure that each of the clubs identifies a suitable urban setting and set up shop there. Last season we saw AFC Leopards pitching camp at Mumias Sugar in Western Kenya while Rangers have been rumoured to be approaching Meru County as a veritable home. Get my drift?
This way then the ‘community-based’ clubs might work and spread the game further into the interiors of the country. It may also not be lost to most that in each of the urban centres in Kenya, the probability of a big corporate firm(s) calling it home are high. Kericho- Ketepa, Mumias Sugar – Mumias, Magadi Soda – Magadi the list is endless…

Wild thoughts? My two-cents on what would be Community Clubs

AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia – Kenya’s Celebrated Football Derby

This football derby never ceases to excite the slightest of football enthusiast in the country. You can even ask SuperSport which bulked from the pressure of these old foes. Ironically the two teams fans have been some of more indisciplined ones in the Kenya Premier League in the 2011 season.
Well another lingering issue was the postponement of the game twice once due to the Super 8 games and the second due to the rugby game featuring Zimbabwe and Kenya at the Nyayo National Stadium. It was also a blessing in disguise for the teams since now they both get a chance to woe their ardent fans & potential ones back to the stadiums.
It has been a mixed bag again with both teams not performing to their bet and AFC Leopards suffering more and currently languishing in 12th position while Gor Mahia lies mid-table at 5th position. A win for Gor would place them at 3rd while a win for Leopards would jump them to 8th position.
All the same, it will be another of the major highlights of a sporting fan’s weekend. Make way to your nearest G4S centre and buy your ticket. The security concerns and the logistics in place are to ensure there is no repeat of a stampede or fracas of any kind.
May the best team win!

‘Richest’ Football Clubs– Top 5 in Kenya Premier League (UPDATED)


Midway through the season we take another look at the Kenyan football clubs and what we could say is their modest worth. This is because most of the clubs have held their books so tightly and secretively and there is such fluidity in the financial situation that the only way we have sourced this information is through media reports and respective club websites (albeit where they provide minimal details) {NB: TV revenues and advertising revenues from SuperSport NOT accounted for, along with bonuses} 1. AFC LEOPARDS – this is unexpected but this is helped in large by the club’s recent media deal with Smart TV which will ensure the club has dedicated media coverage from games to behind the scenes, to archived material through Ingwe TV. This makes it the first club in Kenya to have a dedicated channel comparable to European clubsLink. It has also launched a magazine hoping to attract advertising revenue and engage readers. There is the KShs.15 million deal with Mumias Sugar signed in February as well as the AAR health insurance deal worth KShs.1.5 million. { There is the 60 million 3-year TV deal match-day ticketing and merchandising worth about KShs.2 million} Estimated Worth: KShs.98.5 million 2. GOR MAHIA FC – this is Kenya’s most successful and talked about club. It is also has quite some history though much of the aura around it is both mythical and too hyped. Landing a huge sponsorship worth KShs. 38 million just before the start of the season, the club also has the fastest selling jerseys as well as healthy match-day attendance. On average there are between 5000-10,000 fans attending each game whichever day of the week. {From 2-year sponsorship deal; average attendance of 7500 each paying KShs.100 for 30 games; along with merchandising} Estimated Worth: KShs. 60 million 3. MATHARE UNITEDthis club has been a darling of many corporate firms and had topped our earlier List. This is in sponsorship deals worth about KShs.30 million that the club has attracted from corporate such as Kenya Data Networks (KDN), Real Insurance among others. It also has benefactors through its chairperson Bob Munro who influences not just the club but KPL as well. Estimated Worth: KShs. 52.5 million 4. SOFAPAKA FCthe season had started with much promise and the club looked headed for continental glory and the bounty that comes along with it but this ended last weekend. Having secured sponsorship from Portland Cement, the club has firmly rooted itself atop of the league and also has some following of sorts from its many fans. Estimated Worth: KShs. 36.75 million 5. THIKA UNITEDit is the largest club coming from Central Kenya and has the support of milk processing firm Brookside Milk worth around KShs. 15 million. Couple this with the merchandising and other minor sponsorship deals, the club is surely among the top earners in the country. Estimated Worth: KShs. 30.5 million We shall be reviewing this at the end of the season and see what changes shall be made. By then too the relevant financial bodies and sports marketing and business agencies will have been consulted and more conclusive figures released. The future of the Kenyan football game surely has some positive developments amidst the difficulties in administration.

KPL 2010-11 season has started and came in fast. For some of the clubs, it is a great start and others have been laying the necessary groundwork for their season onslaught. Besides recruiting and changing their technical management, some clubs have also sought to boost their financials in a bid to attract the best of talent. We take a look at some of the clubs that maybe regarded as ‘rich’ – and we use this term in loosely since their financials are shrouded in secrecy, and most have not accounted for their match-day revenues and ticketing revenues. Others are also not clear on their sponsorship packages. Here are the estimates;
Mathare United FC – having started out as an outreach programme for youth in the Nairobi slum of Mathare, they have become a regular feature in the Kenya Premier League since moving up 6 years ago. They have also produced some of the best Kenyan footballing talent represented by their best example so far, Dennis Oliech. Under the leadership of Mr. Bob Munro (one among the brains behind the Kenya Premier League and heavily influences football agenda in the country), the club has managed to lure corporate sponsorship to the tune of US$ 437,500 (approx. KShs. 30 million) in the last 2 years. Their other sources of merchandising and ticketing are not clearly outlined but this wouldn’t be more than 10 % of total revenues. Add in the KPL/SuperSport TV airing bonuses and yearly grant of about US$7,000.
(Estimated Total RevenueUS$ 478,500; for 2010-11)
AFC Leopards FC – this is strictly by the sponsorship figure of approx US$187,500 announced early February 2011 from Mumias Sugar. They also got sponsorship from health service provider Africa Air Rescue (AAR) to the tune of US$ 18750. Last season, the club had secured under controversial circumstances some US$ 3750 (about KShs.300,000). The club also has a fairly tidy following but has not been able to translate this to good performances on the pitch much to the chagrin of their faithful. If they do find their winning ways, they are bound to reap big on the ticketing and merchandising. They may also need to resolve their management issues which might affect revenue inflows.
(Estimated Total RevenueUS$ 233,875; for 2010-11)
Thika United – the most popular side from Central Kenya has the support of one of Kenya’s food processing firm’s –  Brookside Limited’s funds to back its operations. Though not fully confirmed, the amount for the past season was approx. US$ 187,500 (and US$ 37,500 had been promised for top 3 finish which never happened). The club had also signed a kit sponsorship with Umbro between 2003-6 but no details of financials passing hands. The club has some followership in the town of origin and records good crowds both at home and away.
(Estimated Total Revenue: US$ 206,250; for 2010-11)
Sofapaka FC – this club made history in the 2008-9, coming through from the lower rung of the Nationwide League and winning the KPL title only its debut season. It has been able to become a feature in the last 2 seasons, thanks in part to their eccentric Elly Kalekwa – who’s also Chair of the KPL. They secured 3-year sponsorship from EA Portland Cement worth approx. US$ 150,000. They won the 2009 title securing US $ 19,000 in the process. They also won the SuperSport/DSTV Super Cup –the season’s curtain-raiser earning US$ 9375. Add another measly US$ 1250 for winning the Kenya Cup (Kenya’s equivalent of the FA Cup) and TV rights and merchandising as well as matchday revenues.
(Estimated Total Rev: US$ 197,587.50; for 2010-11) 
Ulinzi Stars – the army outfit is mainly made up of servicemen serving in the Kenyan Army. They have a disciplined side which surprised everyone last season to take top honours. Enjoying financial support mainly from the Kenya Army (in extension through the Defense Ministry – Govt of Kenya), the club winnings make up most of their revenues. Their loss to Zamalek means their earning power at continental championships is all but over. For winning the title, they got US$ 19,000 (KShs. 1.5 million), along with US$ 7000 (approx. KShs.0.6mill) as KPL mandatory pay-out for TV and media rights. They have not attracted any corporate sponsor though.
(Estimated Total Rev: US$ 52,000; for 2010-11)
Other Notable Mentions;
Gor Mahia FC – this is the club with the largest and most passionate (and also once in awhile unruly) fan base. Though unsubstantiated, ‘Sirikal’ as they often refer themselves as are said to have earned US$ 13,482.5(about KShs. 1.0786 million) from merchandising alone last season. They have not managed to secure a corporate sponsor even with an able management team, but there are reports that this may soon change. They also attract good match-day collections across the spectrum for home and away games.
Tusker FC – the club has enjoyed a sweet-sour relationship with the brand it represents Tusker. The mother company of Tusker EABL has been cutting down on sports sponsorship and the club was among those affected. The support though is still there but no figures have been declared. The team has managed respectable positions and last year finished 3rd from the top.
KCB FC – this is another corporate club which has the support of Kenya Commercial Bank through its KCB Sports Sponsorship – the wing which supports sports sponsorship for the firm. It is also not confirmed how much they secure annually though KCB Sports reports over US$ 250,000 ( KShs. 20 million) for the different sports disciplines – basketball, rallying, rugby and volleyball.
Karuturi Sports – the club was previously known as Sher Agencies and is among those that graduated from the Nationwide League in 2002-03. The club is fully owned by Karuturi flowers which is 100% owned by the Indian Karuturi company. No figures are available for scrutiny.
Nairobi City Stars – the club has its base in the outskirts of the city, in another slum Kawangare (which also gives it its previous names, Kawangare Stars and World Hope FC). It has some connection with former Kenyan football hero Musa Otieno, through Musa Otieno Foundation. Last year it had been rumoured to secure corporate sponsorship from Orange Telkom but the deal seems to have fallen off the rails. 
From the figures, there is great potential for clubs which have been performing consistently. If a club such as Gor Mahia can achieve a tidy figure from merchandising, the clubs can exploit this with the right focus and business acumen. It is also to be seen how the TV rights can be enhanced though still tightly controlled by SuperSport/DSTv. The clubs also need to raise their performances at the local, regional and continental level. This will guarantee greater followers from the local and maybe across the borders. Why can’t we have our own SA’s Orlando Pirates, Ghana’s Hearts of Oaks, or DRC’s TP Mazembe

KPL & Gor Mahia fans: Take control before you lose football fans’ credibility

The weekend saw the start of the 2011-12 Kenya Premier League after a well-deserved break. A look at most the fixtures scheduled for the first 2 days looked more or less like foregone conclusions – except for the Mathare United v/s Sofapaka & AFC Leopards v/sTusker FC fixtures.
Our interest though is in a fixture that most pundits had given to favourite Gor Mahia – who enjoy fanatical following from their fans. It was against newly promoted but without corporate sponsor, (Posta) Rangers.
Come the start of the match and you would have been wrong to think the other way round. By the half-time break, Rangers were 2-0 up and deservedly so. Into the 82nd minute, they crown an unassailable lead and the Gor Mahia fans who were all along taunting the female linesperson start throwing missiles into the pitch. Soon one of the barriers is down & they are running into the pitch.
For the safety of the players, the referee calls off the game and the police are called in and as usually happens when they come in throw tear-gas to disperse the rowdy fans.
Last year, the Gor Mahia fans were among the most flamboyant and loyal fans following their team towns such as Thika, Naivasha and Nakuru. They are among the loudest and most organized of fans for any football team playing in the KPL. But they can also lose their cool and control at the first signs of a loss. Last year they forced other clubs fans all sorts of taunts at times even snatching their tools of trade. During a late match-up between Gor and AFC Leopards, we all remember what happened though more blame would go the Sports Stadia Management Board, security and ticketing arrangements.
Hooligans (because at best that’s what we would describe the game), have been known to cost many leagues across the world their attraction. The English, Italian and Spanish have been some of the more prominent ones and have come up with stringent measures to ensure the rule of the game is observed on the pitch and off it.
Fans in this part of the world had deserted the stadiums but with last year’s lure they came back in small trickles before coming back in bigger droves towards the end of the League. Over the break many clubs have registered official fans clubs and you can find them in social media channels for your favourite club.
But they too must learn the rules of the game and unfortunately the very club(s) they support suffer first. Our suggestion once investigations are finalized( hope hastily), is first dock points (between 5-9) of course losing the game they disrupted, play 2-3 ‘home’ games without fans and also pay a cash penalty. This will ensure club officials are able to manage the fans, isolate and discipline the unruly ones.
KPL also needs to buttress the security arrangements available in the stadiums. From what happened on Saturday, the melee would have had severe casualties and the stadium would once again stare upon another ban from either CAF or FIFA.
Officiating also needs to be raised a notch higher. The charade of referees and linesmen giving contentious decisions will only incense fans who look for the slightest provocation. We have not had the best of officials coming from our country but this can be changed this season.
All in all, why should a whole League be held ransom by a group of fans from a single club?

Sofapaka qualifies for next round of Confed Cup, but should we celebrate?

Over the weekend, the Kenyan football scene was keenly following one of country’s representatives in continental challenge, Sofapaka ( of course there was the bungled AFC Leopards elections). Having played to a barren draw in the Angolan capital to Aviacao, the team had the home advantage to play with. But it took more than the regular 90 regular play for the team to be able to break the country’s jinxed continental challenge.

Sofapaka Logo – courtesy of www.sofapaka.com

But once the next opponent was confirmed, I think there will be little to celebrate. Ismaily from the Egyptian city of Ismailia. Coincidentally this is the same team they played last year in the CAF Champions League and came undone in the 2nd round losing 2-0 after holding the team to a barren draw in Nairobi.
Our local clubs performance against the North African teams has been dismal to say the least and our current representatives in the CAF Champions League Ulinzi are evidence to the gap we have to close to have any chance of playing in the next round(s) of continental Cups.
If ‘batoto ba Mungu‘ are going to sharpen their attack and hopefully make good their home advantage winning by 2-3 goals without conceding, chances are that they might get close to beating their perennial rivals. That’s when we shall celebrate their win…


In Other News:
What happened to Francis Kimanzi’s appointment as coach of the team? He may be the factor waiting to beat the North Africans. His technical abilities and past experience would come in handy for the team’s continental engagements ( no offence to fashionable Ezekiel Akwana) 

AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia – Kenya’s Football Derby

Yes, the Kenyan football scene works up some new fever and this time though the timing is slightly different given the fact that each of the team has different battles to fight for. Leopards’ fighting for a favourable finish, while Gor is hoping to cut Ulinzi’s table-topping lead points to a more realistic chance of winning the Kenya Premier League.
Both teams have had mixed fortunes in the run in the League this year with Leopards suffering more even with the earlier promise of a better finish. They also won the 1st leg of this fixture against K’Ogalo. But inconsistent form has led them to a high of 5th position (though currently at 8th place).
Gor on the other hand have a huge following and they shall be counting on the same to match their good form at the Nyayo National Stadium. But given the time in the season, the latter look to be yearning for a better show this time and the games left this one is the most difficult one.
The game shall be played at 1900hrs East African time and shall be screened on SuperSport 9. Tickets are being sold at the selected outlets and Nyayo National Stadium ( why create such a logistical nightmare in the light of the Kenya-Uganda game, can’t tell…).

Predictions : Gor Mahia – AFC Leopards : 3-1
May the best team on the day win !

In other news, 2 Kenyan footballers have been called up by French clubs for trials. It’s our hope they can do a good job and join our erstwhile and often unpredictable Dennis Oliech as we look to increase our Kenyan footballing talent in Europe.

Quick One:
Heartfelt wishes to the families of the fans whose lives were lost or who’s hurt from Saturday’s stampede. We had mentioned the organisational nightmare at Nyayo National Stadium a few weeks ago after the Kenya-Uganda game but no one from the Sports Stadia Management Board or Kenya Football Limited seemed to listen. How do you sell the tickets for such a game in one day and expect the crowd to be orderly?
We also mentioned the risk of a huge crowd and safety measures at the same ground. Sad that we have to wait for tragedy for us to make the necessary arrangements. We shall not apportion blame here but SSMB, FKL , KPL and also the respective club ‘unruly’ fans have a bad taste in their mouths on this one.
For future games;

  • Sell tickets 72 hours to the game and the final ones should be sold at the worst 6 hours to the game. 
  • Ensure the club fans are at the venue early enough and lock all gates an hour to the kick-off ( no preferences here) –  invest in big screens for late comers to view at a designated fan park nearby or around the stadium. 
  • Invest in new technology – why do we have to use people to cut tickets until the last minute before kick-off? Invest in bar-code ticketing and that way the only people you shall need are security people confirming safe entry.
  • Maintenance of the physical structures at the Stadium – for heaven’s sake, how do you have 2-4 gates open when the venue is serviced by over 10 gates? Especially for a game of this magnitude? The excuse of late-comers and the weather doesn’t cut. This is NOT the first derby of its kind and shall surely not be the last.

You have cost the clubs game attending fans and unless the necessary measures are undertaken, come March when we host another international match and who knows what shall happen…