SportPesa’s Sponsorship Withdrawal – Biggest Gamble

2018 Cometh……

2017 has been one momentous year for the country. Even in the world of sport, it has been a well mix in the basket. Talking of baskets, tongues are wagging about the biggest sponsors of sport in Kenya – SportPesa – who are thinking of pulling back their bountiful offering, effectively reducing its involvement in sports in Kenya. What does this portend for sports in 2018?

We got the world...(image courtesy of SportPesa)
We got the world…(image courtesy of SportPesa)

A few posts ago, we predicted the impact of sports betting companies on our sports scene. A casual look at Kenyan sport in the last 3 years has seen a major impact both directly and indirectly on how we consume and interact with sport.
A PwC report on Kenya Entertainment and Media 2013-17 , revenues from sports betting were projected to rise from US$ 11.7 million (2012) to $17.3 million (2017).
As of writing this post, there are about 25 sports betting (and gambling )companies registered in Kenya. The biggest and easily recognisable is SportPesa – operating BCLB (Betting Control & Licensing Board) license no. 673 through Pevans EA Ltd.

Conservative estimates of sports betting and its impact to the economy are at between KES 635-700 million p.a. This is mainly in sports sponsorship, direct spending in improving sports facilities and teams, as well as employment. Add another KES. 2.4 billion in media spend (various media research reports in 2017) – from digital, print, radio and TV – as well as daily spends and we’re talking of billions of shillings!

The synergy enjoyed by both betting and telecoms companies have seen the mobile money in Kenya grow to daily transactions worth KES 18.4 billion! A good fraction of the monies are from your common man on the street, to the discerning campus student and many in blue-collar jobs who review their odds every other morning to make the winnings.

SportPesa Success

Back to SportPesa, the upsurge of sports betting in Kenya can be attributed to its adeptness and adaptability to their audience. As aptly summarised by BetMoran on the post titled ‘ Why SportPesa is very successful‘ the main points include;

  • Consumer spend – 50,000 users spending an average of KES. 500 = KES 25 million per month;
  • High and engaged web audience – an average of 16-18 million users every month (if using Google AdSense-this is another revenue stream);
  • Consumer education – when launching in 2014 just in time for the World Cup, SportPesa has continually educated its target audience on its various betting platforms and options;
  • Mobile technology – as noted above, riding the wave of over 25 million unique mobile phone connections, SportPesa was able to ride the wave of mobile money and making it integral in its platforms;
  • Media spend and engagement- as of Aug 2017, SportPesa was the biggest ad spending firm in media in Kenya rivalling telecoms and FMCGs such as Safaricom, Coca-Cola and P&G that have traditionally been high spenders in these.
  • Timing – launching in time for the 2014 World Cup, the brand was able to take advantage of the biggest sports extravaganza in the world. Pray they’re already looking forward to the 2018 one…

Enter GoK’s hand

In May/June 2017, the Treasury CS tabled proposals to tax sports betting firms in Kenya as high as +50% of the daily collections. While it is not our forte in matters taxation, with the numbers mentioned above, it would be foolhardy to assume this would not attract the Treasury technocrats. Given its agenda to invest in infrastructure including the now-on-then-off stadia development, the GoK has had a tough year in looking to bridge the budget deficit.

Sports betting firms did what is becoming our typical litigious selves in Kenya and took to court to stop the tax measures. The case to nullify the tax measures was dismissed last week, effectively attracting a 35% tax cap on the gross earnings of the sports betting firms effective January 2019.

As of close of 2017, the tax percentages were as follows;

  • 5% of lottery sales;
  • 7.5% for betting firms and bookmakers;
  • 12% for casino gambling and
  • 15% for raffles.
  • Additional taxes include 30% corporate tax and 25% of their total sales dedicated to social causes, including sports activities.

SportPesa is currently involved in major sporting disciplines including;

a) Football – FKF, Premier League, Super 8 , Gor Mahia FC, AFC Leopards FC and Nakuru All Stars FC

b) Rugby – through KRU, National 7s team and Kenya Harlequins;

c) Boxing – Boxing Association of Kenya and boxer Fatima Zarika;

d) Rallying – by sponsoring Leonardo Varese.

Other sponsorship includes shirt sponsoring Everton FC; sports partnership with Arsenal FC, Southampton FC and Hull City as well as La Liga in Spain.

All these associations are likely to be affected in one way or the other once the firm confirms its future role in sponsoring sports in Kenya and overseas too.

Having started expanding its geographical reach in the region to both Uganda and Tanzania, the main market still remains the local scene. The firm’s perceived close links within the GoK will also be exploring ways of either reducing the burden of taxation or enjoying tax holidays for a little longer than the prescribed date.

Way Out?

  1. National Sports Lottery – the establishment of this lottery is long overdue. The GoK through the Ministry of Culture and Sports ought to have fast-tracked this in the last 3 years. Among the many options would be to push for all betting and gambling companies to remit part of their monthly revenues to this common Fund. The monies raised would be apportioned to the sports associations proportionate to the scope of the sport and planned activities for the year. This has worked successfully in countries such as the UK.
  2. Commensurate Social Responsibility – in South Africa, betting and gambling companies have to engage a fair amount of their revenues to corporate social responsibility. While it may not be a sustainable business model for sports business, it is a means to the end of sports development in parts of the world as this.
  3. Lobbying – while we are not privy to what may have happened along the corridors of Parliament and the delays in confirmation of respective committees, it would serve them well to lobby the legislators to reduce the impact of the taxation on their revenues. Alternatively they can give their options of tax regime or tax holiday for those setting up to their 2nd or 3rd year upon which the applicable tax kicks in.

As of 1st January 2018, SportPesa had sought to appeal the ruling in the courts seeking to overturn the ruling. In the meantime, all local sponsorship stands suspended.

To managing the taxman and his demands, a lot still needs to be done to reach a consensus. For the sports organisations likely to be affected, a common ground on appealing to those in Government can be pursued.

It remains to be seen how the biggest gamble will finally play out in 2018.

 

Are Community Clubs in Kenya basket cases?

Once again the arguments about football clubs in Kenya in particular the community clubs v/s ‘corporate-sponsored’ clubs are back again (see earlier post here). It’s a bit of concern now especially with the taxman breathing down the neck of all and sundry. It is quite tragic that most of the community clubs enjoy a huge fan-base ( but have not been able to monetise and marshal these numbers to reflect well commercially..)

While some officials of the clubs read mischief and malice, in the end what the taxman wants, s/he gets! It is also very clear that most of the club officials have not put in place proper mechanisms for running a club.
Issues like;

  • annual financial statements;
  • player contracts and players’ welfare; 
  • commercial and business plans ( add the marketing bit in there);
  • communication and PR strategy 

among other important documents. They should not also blame other sources for their ineptitude and incompetency.

While the KPL has been making slow progress on some fronts, it is of fundamental importance that clubs set these issues right to avoid what we’re seeing currently.
It is also important that the KPL officials avoid being held at ransom by club officials who stifle developments such as has been the banned-but-soon-lifted proclamations regarding hooliganism.
Some have blamed the security personnel for not getting it right, but we already have over-stretched these people with current security scares in the country.
Clubs must revamp their mode of operations from societies ( as one official was quoted saying in the Press) to proper commercial and business outfits.

Sports is not charity anymore and KPL ought to spell this out for participating clubs. A benchmark of financial resources should be in place for at least 1 year. This will show that the club is capable of paying its players, management and other technical staff, merchandise and training facilities among others. Penalties should be in place for those who fail to meet the thresh-hold.

Early this season, KPL decided to do an audit of football venues across the country. It is also prudent for them to do the same for financial records of the clubs.Related to this, there is an interesting report done by AfriCog detailing football mismanagement in Kenya. Check the link here.

Back to the community clubs, various countries have tried these models of operation and succeeded so it is not excuse enough for the poor management practices currently witnessed. Clubs such as Kaizer Chiefs (South Africa), Atletico Bilbao , Barcelona (both from Spain), Boca Juniors (Argentina) as well as Borussia Dortmund to name a few.  A few quick tips;

  1. Establish a limited company before selling shares – this can be either to the general public or restricted to a certain number ( say 1 share worth KSh.50,000 etc);
  2. Get a wealthy benefactor and get him/her to manage the club as one of his entities – this is yet to catch on in Kenya but is prominent in Europe moreso England. Any Katumbis, Khozas or Abramovichs in Kenya?
  3. Secure major sponsorship deals with leading companies – this is a tricky one since most companies have what they call a need for ROI thus cannot justify putting money where they might not get value for it;
  4. Secure a large fan-base ( preferably regional or national) and this will be lucrative to both individual or corporate investors ( tragedy is if they are an unruly and emotional lot, they often end up being a curse instead) and finally
  5. Perform, perform and perform! Without good results, any club is as good as dead.
SIDE-NOTE:
In researching for this piece, some interesting links came up such as this one on the top clubs in Africa as done by CAF in December 2012. It’s interesting to note that even though the Democratic Republic of Congo has a troubled economy, their football clubs have performed well in the continent. Here’s a snippet of the rankings- number in brackets represents FIFA Club World rankings;
1. (67) Al-Ahly – Egypt  – estimated revenue of $36.09 million (in 2008)
2. (146) Esperance Sportive – $5.71 million 
3. (147) Zamalek – Egypt – $26.8 million
4. (176) Tout Puissant Mazembe aka TP Mazembe – DRC – $15 ( in 2013)
5. (190) Asante Kotoko – Ghana 
Kenya’s Clubs;
45. Gor Mahia (Pos.604)
79. AFC Leopards (Pos.893)
88. Tusker FC (Pos.954)

Additional info on the post can be found from the following links;
Top 5 African millionaire football club owners
For TP Mazembe…the future looks bright
Worlds Top 5 Fan-owned Soccer teams
CAF Club & World Rankings – 2012
Richest Football Clubs in Africa by Revenues – 2008

Gor Mahia hooligans put blemish on KPL Finale

In what had promised to be a tense and exciting final kick of the Tusker-sponsored KPL, there just had to be some people hell-bent on spoiling the party. Well, the script got flipped on this last day and for some fans it was too much to bear. And true not everyone emerges tops but surely its not an excuse to take it out on perceived rivals or innocent citizenry.

AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia earlier this year – Image via www.michezoafrika.com

First things first though, we condemn the actions of those Gor Mahia fans who damaged property and other movables on Saturday after their final game against Thika United. Your actions led to the prolonged chaos and unnecessary tragedies to innocent by-standers who had absolutely nothing to do with the game. 

Secondly and this is where we still believe KPL officials still turn a blind eye and deal with Gor Mahia club with kid gloves, condemnation and punishment should come in HARD. The club has its share of troubled matches and this past season was no exception. There was some semblance of punishment but KPL and Sports Stadia officials bulked down at some point due to shrinking revenues. But what good does it do when a single club’s fans threaten an entire league’s future just because of some few bad elements? If points have to be docked or games played in empty stadia, so be it…ili iwe funzo!

Third, many ardent Gor Mahia fans are quick to excuse themselves and say that those causing problems are thugs and not anyone associated with the club. But isn’t it a familiar trend, draw or lose a crucial game and some form of chaos comes from the proceedings of post-game activities? Out of 16 teams in the Kenya Premier League, which club has the highest incidence of fan trouble, riots, property damage etc? The record speaks for itself, season in, season out.

Fourth, internally the club’s officials have to ensure they identify and weed out elements who keep repeating these unnecessary activities. In leagues such as the South American and European leagues, hooligans have been identified by respective clubs officials and blacklisted by security organs who share these across borders. Though not entirely weeded out, clubs which deviate from a semblance of order are heavily punished and thus officials have decided to be pro-active unlike their counterparts here.

Fifth, for once we agreed with FKF officials who had advised for the game to be moved to Kasarani Stadium on Thika Road ( good god it didn’t happen, otherwise the renovated grounds would have been defaced …maybe…. But Gor officials pleaded with KPL and SuperSport for the game to remain at City Stadium. Except for the artificial turf that was installed, those grounds are not fit for a game of such magnitude. Nairobi City Council (will it exist as is or does it change to County of Nairobi???)or whoever is in charge of the grounds needs to close for a year or so, make proper sitting spaces, proper security arrangements and lighting(floodlights), parking lots and access points and move those hawkers surrounding the stadium. And any day it hosts such a match have proper security systems and traffic regulation.

Sixth it is tragic that the very same political elite that seek to identify with the club do not condemn and make the bad elements stand out when they cause such destruction. Let’s not lie but the club gets its largest followership from one of the Kenyan communities but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have other fans from other communities. Thus the politicians may go easy on the Gor ‘fans’ for the fear of antagonizing a valuable voting bloc asset. That our politicians have perfected the smoke and mirror acts has also pervaded our sports scene and it’s something we will either learn to live with and suffer for it or deal with it before it takes our football back to the doldrums.

Seventh, sections of the media have not been active enough in condemning and/or calling those charged to take more responsibility on such activities. We have heard that some sports editorials are compromised before stories are aired either for fear of reprieve from sports administrators who ‘grease’ those in the take with freebies, tickets or accreditation to international events. These are elements who are putting our sports scene in serious doubts. What happened to the proverbial ‘voice of reason’?

For those of you who think hooliganism is a way of sport, then we should stop humouring ourselves that we are helping the game. Hooliganism and its associated acts is bad for any sport and should be rooted out of Kenyan sport before it develops strong roots. It’s interesting that a game like rugby which is known to associate with toughness and rugged players and who’s majority of fans indulge in alcohol but are some of the most disciplined and gentle ones you’ll ever come across. Maybe there is something we can learn from our rugby counterparts.

Oh and by the way Gor Mahia is facing AFC Leopards in an FKF Cup in a few days time, wonder what shall pan out of this derby? 

For those wishing to engage in further literature you can read this link here on Soccer Violence in South America’s Argentina. You can also check this on Hooliganism in the UK.

We sampled the following Twitter comments and views on the post-match activities;
{and the views contained therein are not in any way endorsements or approval of this blog’s views and as such should be treated independent of the same}

@AKenyanGirl If #KOTs can make a stand against MPigs, we can and should do the same to #GorMahia. Say no to terror and murder in the name of football

@mmurumba Love for football can never be justified by hooliganism. #GorMahia shouldn’t be allowed to participate in #TPL if they can’t accept defeat.

@LukoyeAtwoli #GorMahia fans who make political statements (Gor, Obama, Raila), then complain when violence is blamed on ALL these are being disingenuous

@‏LarryMadowo I’m ashamed to be a #GorMahia fan. Which doofus supporters cannot accept a loss without violence? Plonkers still stuck in the Stone Age, nkt

@MauriYambo Leaders who bask in #GorMahia’s glory days but ‘hide’ when hooligans flood the streets R doing us all a disservice. Time 4 serious man-talk!

@4lifestan A lot have been said concerning the #Gor eventful day, but if the end justifies the means, the club have a lot to ponder on a serious note.

@doreenapollos: Then you see juvenile #Gor fans posting rude tweets in defence,not knowing that rude attitude isn’t helping but stamping the hooligan’s view

@pmusesya If @robertalai wasn’t a #Gor fan, he would be tweefing and condemning and leading a movement against them…oh well, (shrugs)

@suehlawrie This #Gor issue is about thugs and criminals who CHOOSE to attend Gor matches. It does not mean they are Gor fans. Fans respect their clubs.

@mosemogeni It doesn’t matter how big or small the club is, if ur fans are criminals, bring them to justice. #Gor

@kachwanya Football is awesome and at the end of week people get something to be excited about but at the end of the day..it is just a game..

AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia – Kenya’s Biggest Football Derby ’12 Second Edition

KPL and football pundits are rubbing their hands with glee as the biggest football derby in the country comes to fruition this weekend at the newly refurbished Kasarani grounds ( MISC if you like). A couple of weeks ago, it looked like AFC Leopards had all but sealed the top spot going into the 2nd and final leg of the 2012 season of Kenya’s premier football league. But the last couple of games have ended in draws and a more recent loss to Western Stima in Nakuru reduced the gap between the top 3 teams by 2-points ( NB: reigning champions Tusker FC lead by virtue of a better goal advantage but are equal in points with AFC at 45 points).
On the other hand, Gor Mahia have been on the rise after brushing aside on their worst starts to the league earlier this year. They had to change the management and are currently under Croat Zdravko Logarusic who has steered the ship back into title contention with an unbeaten run 19-games, they look every bit as champions already. Marshalling one of the biggest fan base (and most emotive too), the club shall hope to maintain this streak come Saturday.
It must be the gods blessings that the current season sees both teams in contention for the title and as such making it a mouth-watering game whichever way you look at it. And with 8 games left, the title race is still any club’s taking. This should be the motivation for both teams who’s touch on the top prize in the last 3 years has been close yet so far.

Interesting Facts:

  • Both AFC Leopards & Gor Mahia have won the Premiership title 12 times each;
  • Both teams are currently coached by foreigners Dutchman Jan Koops (AFC Leopards) and Croat-born Z. Logarusic;
  • Gor Mahia finished 4th and AFC Leopards 5th respectively in the 2011 season;
  • Both clubs have the largest corporate sponsorships with Gor Mahia’s Brookside shirt sponsorship tipping AFC’s Mumias Sugar deal;
  • Both teams were recently incorporated into a fan-base drive by one of Kenya’s leading media group dubbed Toklezea na Jalee meant to encourage both clubs’ fans to buy merchandise that will help build their respective kitties. 
  • Both clubs have the biggest fan-base between them, fondly referring to each other as Shemeji, thanks to the politics of the day…which are very fluid in this part of the world.
  • The 1st leg was Gor Mahia hosting AFC Leopards with the game briefly abandoned before ending in a draw – though with officials from both sides blaming each other for fan trouble. This 2nd leg is AFC’s though Safari 7s necessitated the move to MISC and also change of date from Sunday to Saturday.

Saturday 1600hours is the kick-off at the Kasarani stadium ( with SuperSport 9 East screening the game live for those not brave enough to venture into the hallowed grounds) !

AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia – KPL’s Main Highlight this weekend

Kenya’s Premier League’s started in earnest and this weekend the biggest derby in the country’s history unfolds on Sunday at 1500hours.

AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia in a past gameimage courtesy of www.futaa.com

This season though, AFC Leopards are currently the fastest kids off the blocks, having won 4 out of their first 5 matches. They had some signings in the off-season which have seen them scalping every team in their wake.
Allan Wanga‘s been their starry-eyed player for the moment for AFC. He’s scored  in all except one match including a delightful free-kick against Ulinzi FC in February which saw him voted by sports journalist as the Kandanda Player of the Month ( taking home trophy & 10,000 to boot). He has ably taken off the load of scoring which had been left to Mike Barasa for the better part of last season. Along with other new signings, the team seems to be gelling faster than the rest. The good tidings for Jan ‘Wephukulu’ Koops also seem to be pouring onto the team’s fortunes as they did for the latter part of last season. Modest financial backing from sponsors as well as favourable ticket sales from match-days have seen the financials fortunes of the club stabilise in the short-term.
Gor Mahia on the other hand have not been able to secure good results which has resulted in the sacking of its entire technical bench. The team’s currently placed 14th, two places from the bottom of the table standings. With the team being bundled out of continental championship and the ‘colossal’ expectations of its huge fan-base, the players will have pride to fight for in this fixture. Their off-season signings have taken long to cobble up a formidable team but if they have the patience, they will be rewarded in good time.
Last season’s similar fixture saw Gor Mahia beat AFC by 3-1 only for the latter to reverse the results by 3-0 margin. As always the stakes are high for both teams { who’s fans affectionately call each other shemeji – (cousins) thanks to the political alignments and geographical proximity of majority of the fans }.

For you the discerning Kenyan football fan, this is surely not to be missed and if in the unlikely event you can’t make it to the Nyayo National Stadium, catch the action on SuperSport 9 East Africa !

Check out this blog which aggregates news about AFC Leopards team activities and games, pre-match and post-match analysis. As for Gor Mahia, this link might help too!

Gor Mahia sacks entire technical team

After a dismal start to the 2012 Kenya Premier League season as well as poor show in the continental challenge, Gor Mahia executive board has sacked the entire technical team led by Cameroon-born Anaba Awono.
Taking over (on an interim basis) will be former Kenyan international Bobby Ogolla who has coached a couple of Kenyan sides including World Hope FC, assistant coach – Sofapaka and also Kenyan national team.
Gor Mahia whose fan-base is one of the largest in the country may have contributed to the speedy sacking as the top officials seek to rescue a season which already gone awry in 3 games played thus far. They also lost the season’s curtain-raiser to Tusker in the SuperSport DSTv Cup.
Of urgency now will be to see if they can salvage a win against Mozambique’s Ferraviaro in the CAF Cup qualifiers needing a 4-goal outright win. There’s also the Super 8 Cup matches coming up later this week with their first game pitting them against arch-rivals AFC Leopards who’re on a winning streak thus far.
A word to might go to the fans who’s expectations are way up there and who’s conduct has been called to question every so often once they lose a match. Shall they rise from the ashes like the Phoenix ? Only time will tell!

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! 

Kenyan Club Football – Faltering at many levels

Over the weekend, besides the Kenyan Premier League fixtures, two of Kenya’s clubs were representing the country in the continental club championships – Tusker FC at home to Rwanda’s Armee Patriotique Rwandese (APR) FC ( first leg of Round 1 of CAF Champions League) while Gor Mahia was away in Maputo Mozambique to Ferroviaro de Maputo. ( first leg of Round 1 CAF Confederations Cup)
Homeboys Tusker could only afford a 0-0 draw which makes their work hard going to Kigali a few days time. Not taking advantage of the home crowd and wasting chances to at least secure a goal will most likely cost the club any continental exposure. They must pray that they can get their skills up and find winning ways in the return match. A scoring draw will safely see them through thanks to an away-goal advantage.

K’Ogalo as Gor Mahia’s fondly known to its fans on the other hand saw 3-0 past their own net to Ferroviaro which will require some real inspiration to cancel out and eventually beat to qualify. For the longest time I have said that the team lacks technical skills and this was exposed once again on this game. It must also be remembered that their win last year of FKL’s Cup after seeing passage as one of the best losers. That was never resolved & FKL’s oversight might cost the country a place on the continent’s other major club championship.
Listening to the club chairman’s seek to make comparison to last year’s Sofapaka’s miraculous mauling of Egyptian opposition was stretching it a bit too far. As one may remember, the political and social situation in Egypt was very unstable and still is thus the lack of inspiration for the players and clubs. The Egyptian national team missed the Africa Cup of Nations despite having been reigning champions early this year.
All’s not lost though cos as they say 90min is a lifetime in any football game and again, Gor Mahia has one of the largest following in the country and are likely to sermon those strengths to add their 12th man in the return match.
The bonuses promised by their sponsors should also seek to inspire the players – as is expected in an election year, many a politician will seek to support such club exploits if only for some political mileage, take advantage!
We wish both clubs all the best in their respective return matches!

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!