SportPesa bombshell: Will the exit of another key sponsor delay the Premiership again?
10 months ago, 3 Jan 17:58
The one month stand off between Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and Kenya Premier League (KPL) over the composition of the country’s elite football league opened the year’s football calendar with the two bodies jostling for supremacy. The stand off, which was marred by several court injunctions saw the kick off dates pushed back to March 11 unlike in the past where the league would serve off in second week of February. FKF were anticipating for an 18-team league while their counterparts KPL were fighting for the retention of the 16-team format. FKF, however, had the last laugh as they got their way. However, the move led to the exit of the then broadcast partners SuperSport who closed shop, citing breach of contract. Besides the ugly contest between the two, the league was also delayed by clubs who had not fully complied with the club licensing requirements. The dramatic exit of the South African-based pay TV company brought to an end the airing of live matches in a move that hit KPL hard, having penned a 10-year long contract with SuperSport at an estimated Sh300m a year. Currently there is talk of betting form SportPesa—raising the question: Are we staring at another delay? With the supremacy battle between FKF and KPL solved, the league kicked off albeit on a low note. The electioneering period, however did not make matters any easy as the league was postponed twice, leading to fixture pile up in the second leg. The then defending champions Tusker were humiliated 5-2 by debutants Nzoia Sugar beginning their title defence campaign on the wrong footing. Under the tutelage of a new coach George Nsiimbe, Tusker faltered in their subsequent matches, prompting a investigation into sabotage claims due to alleged lack of transparency in sharing dividends gained in winning the league. Complacency then became the order of the day at the Ruaraka-based club and hence finished sixth and failed to defend the league and the GOtv Shield. Nsiimbe paid the ultimate price of failing to match the standards of his predecessor Paul Nkata and was shown the door last October with his contract terminated last month. The dip in form by Tusker lightened up Gor Mahia’s way of recapturing the title they had forfeited to the brewers. The fall of Tusker also saw surprise package Posta Rangers under Sammy Omollo, emerge and subsequently commanded the lead for the better part of the first leg. Gor, under the stewardship of Brazilian head coach Jose Maria Ferreira, had a successful first leg where they finished on top. In June, Gor crossed the border to Tanzania for the SportPesa Super Cup, where they beat their traditional rivals AFC Leopards 3-0 in the finals. The win granted them the golden opportunity to play English side Everton in a friendly match, which Gor lost 2-1 to Merseyside club. Weeks after claiming the Super Cup, Ze Maria resigned from Gor and headed to Albanian side, FK Tirana, leaving his assistant Zedekiah Otieno in charge. Gor subsequently ...