Withdrawal looms: Gor, Leopards threaten to pull out of their continental assignments
12 months ago, 3 Jan 17:58
Kenya’s most successful clubs Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards may not honour their continental assignments following the financial withdrawal of sports betting firm, SportPesa. The ramifications of the sponsorship termination engineered by the 35 percent tax imposed on sports betting firms and lotteries, prompted the gaming company to cancel all sponsorships deals with local clubs and federations. SportPesa were the official shirt sponsors of Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards, who enjoyed Sh60 and 45 million backing respectively. The two, who are the Kenya Premier League and GOtv Shield winners, were set to represent the country in the Caf Champions League and Confederations Cup respectively. Following the regrettably withdrawal by SportPesa, the chairmen of the two clubs unveiled their plans to quit from the continental tasks. Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier termed the move as a ‘sport killing one’ and predicted a struggle in the league. He said the club may be forced to reduce the salaries of the playing unit and revert to the old ways of begging and selling bread. “It is a 100 percent loss for us and this move is a sport killing one. The two clubs feed the national team with players and this means there may be no football at the national team and at club level. I don’t see the club making it to the Champions League since we need more than Sh10 million for one trip and we do not have a sponsor to cater for that. As a way of sustaining the club, we are thinking of going back to selling bread and seeking for funds from our supporters. We may also drastically reduce the salaries of the players,” he said. Gor were scheduled to play Equitorial Guinea side, Leones Vegetarianos. His AFC Leopards counterpart, Dan Mule disclosed his headache of honouring salaries for especially the newly acquired players and the looming withdrawal from Caf Confederations Cup. Mule said: “We can’t afford to travel to other countries for the Caf assignment after the withdrawal of SportPesa. We had signed many players from other countries and had promised to pay their salaries on time. Now I don’t know what to tell them. We are going back to begging and other means of seeking funding. We will be writing to Caf to exempt us from participating in the confederations Cup.” Leopards were scheduled to host Madagascan side, Fosa Juniors in the first round. Despite the development, Kenya Premier League chief executive officer (CEO) Jack Oguda expressed confidence that the league will start on the scheduled dates. “I can confirm the league will start in February despite the bad news of SportPesa’s withdrawal. Right now, we are working on our broadcast partners in a bid to get means and ways of running the league. Regrettably, SportPesa move will affect clubs, players and referees,” he noted.
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