NAIROBI, July 3- SuperSport International maintain they are the rightful broadcast right holders of Saturday’s CHAN preliminary round qualifier return leg between Harambee Stars and Walia Ibex of Ethiopia at Nyayo National Stadium.
The South African based pay television firm insist their plans to air the game in Kenya and across Africa in their platform will not be affected by a blockade mounted by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) at Nyayo National Stadium, the match venue.
Federation officials engaged police officers to enforce a lockout of SuperSport crew from the stadium on Friday as personnel from Vivid Features who have been contracted by their new media partners, StarTimes, set up their broadcast equipment.
In a rejoinder, StarTimes Director of Sports, Gary Rathbone accuses SuperSport of trying to run them out of town by acquiring rights to a game they ‘had no prior interest’.
Capital Sport has obtained a copy of the contract signed between SuperSport International and SportFive, the firm that distributes broadcast rights on behalf of CAF giving them licence to air the encounter.
“Any infringement of all or part of these private rights, notably in case of use of them of use of them without a valid agreement or in case of an improper use of them, contravenes the applicable laws and regulations and is liable to legal proceedings,” the letter published below in full giving SuperSport the rights reads.
A copy of the contract between SuperSport International and SportFive. PHOTO/Courtesy
Speaking to Capital Sport, Rathbone confirmed they would pull out or continue their plans to air the game depending on the communication they receive from the federation regarding the matter.
“Our contract is with FKF and not SportFive and if they inform us they were wrong in giving us the rights to broadcast the game, then we have no problem, we shall take our things and move away.
“If they contact CAF and give us the correct position regarding the game, we shall abide by what we are told and we are trying to sort that matter,” Rathbone, a former Head of Africa at SuperSport said.
He accused their giant rivals of using their muscle to stifle competition with Saturday’s game providing a battleground in local pay television supremacy wars.
“SuperSport have no interest of Kenyan football at heart. If they wanted to own the rights of the game, they should have acquired them as early as last week for example.
“The only reason they have moved for this match is because we made an announcement to partner with the federation for Harambee Stars. In the event we move out and there is no competition, you think they will be interested in forthcoming games?” the director claimed.
Rathbone emphasised their USD5m (close to half a billion shillings deal) five-year deal for all national teams was meant to give local football a shot in the arm as opposed to purely commercial interest for the Chinese owned broadcaster,
It remains to be seen what sanctions or penalties FKF and /or their StarTimes media partners will incur should they press on with the lockout as published in this link http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/sports/2015/07/03/fkf-locks-supersport-out-of-nyayo/
The television wars threaten to steal the thunder from the match where Stars need to fire in three unanswered or more goals to overturn a 2-0 reverse they ceded in the first leg in Ethiopia.
Anticipation of what would be the biggest comeback in recent Kenya’s football history has been tempered by the unprecedented tussle over broadcasting rights to a Stars game.
FKF President, Sam Nyamweya, has promised to get back to Capital Sport to explain their side of the story in what is turning out to be gripping saga.