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Kenya’s top clubs to pull out of regional
competitions as the sponsor withdraws

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s top football clubs - Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards will  withdraw from the 2018 Champions League and Confederations Cup.

This is after sponsors - betting giants SportPesa Chief Executive Officer, Captain Ronald Karauri officially announced the withdrawal of all their sponsorships on Tuesday, in a move that plunged the Kenyan sporting industry into crisis.

This is after the private equity firm lost a case last week in the country’s High Court challenging the implementation of a 35 percent government tax on revenue that came in force on Monday.

“Unfortunately, we lost the case and effective immediately and we regret this decision, we have no choice but to cancel all sponsorships we have as SportPesa,” Karauri announced confirming fears that have been circulating since Thursday when the court ruled against the firm.

Reacting to the development, Gor chairman, Ambrose Rachier, said they would hold a crisis meeting later Tuesday where they would write to continental body, CAF, stating their withdrawal from the 2018 Champions League.

“A one-way air ticket is costing 3.5 million shillings (35,000 U.S. dollars), accommodation, 3 million shillings (30,000 dollars) and we will need 10 million shillings (10,000 dollars) for one match, to and from and we cannot sustain that budget.

“Our gate collections are not enough to cater for that expense and also pay players and technical bench, we are in dilemma. This is tantamount to killing football in the country. No Kenyan club is going to successfully stay in the 2018 KPL,” Rachier lamented.

His Leopards counterpart, Dan Mule, also said his team who won the 2017 GOtv Shield will follow suit and withdraw from the 2018 CAF Confederations Cup.

“We have no sponsors right now. We are going to withdraw from CAF assignments. We are urging other like-minded corporates to emulate SportPesa and support community clubs in Kenya.

“I don’t know how we will pay the 10 international players we have signed ahead of the season,” Mule said.

Besides Gor and Leopards, other organisations staring at a bleak future include Football Kenya Federation, Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) and the Boxing Association of Kenya are the federations affected by the move to terminate their biggest source of funding.

SportPesa was also catering for the bulk of the pay for newly hired national football team head coach, Belgian Paul Put and Technical Director, Andreas Spiers from Germany.

The Kenyan Premier League (football), National Boxing League as well as the annual Super 8 grassroots football tournament are the domestic competitions that will be affected by the move.

“The cancellation of this contract forces us to completely re-examine our structures and we immediately call upon the government to step into the breach and provide the necessary support as guided by the Sports Act,” KRU added in a statement.


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