Rugby Rugby

KQ to renew Shujaa sponsorship ‘flight’

Kenya Airways Area Marketing Manager, Jacky Muhati addresses Kenya 7s after they returned from London on Tuesday.
Kenya Airways Head of Area Marketing, Jacky Muhati addresses Kenya 7s after they returned from London on Tuesday.

NAIROBI, May 21 – Negotiations are at an advanced stage between Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) and Kenya Airways for the renewal of title sponsorship of national sevens team Shujaa.

There was uncertainty on whether the national carrier would renew their package with their two-year Sh 400m (USD 4,127,413.63) set to lapse in the course of the year after some of board members were accused of embezzling funds but Union boss, Richard Omwela ended speculation, saying discussions are almost complete.

“Kenya Airways is here to stay, I had a meeting with the CEO, Mbuvi Nguze in London and we are in discussion; so if there are lingering doubts whether Kenya Airways will continue sponsoring our team, what I can say is there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Omwela who was re-elected as chairman in March announced.

The company’s Marketing Director, Chris Diaz confirmed they will remain committed to the team on condition they reclaim their position as a top-10 side in the World Rugby Sevens Series.

“We all agree it has been a challenging season for the team, we share the concern of performance for the better part of the season; however we urge them to put their best foot forward for next season because all is not lost.

“Even as we prepare for better outcome next season, on behalf of the company I would like to state we remain immensely proud of our relationship with Kenya 7s.

“I also wish to reiterate our continued support to the new management and activities that are adhered towards growing the team. However, we must remind the team and its management, our labour should not be in vain,” Diaz affirmed.

The KRU boss disclosed he had to clear the mess that had tainted the Union’s image after prolonged wangles within board members, forcing integrated communication service provider, Safaricom to withdraw their national Sevens circuit sponsorship.

This led to the suspension of vice chairman, Philip Jalang’o who was accused of misappropriation of funds from last year’s Safaricom Sevens and Bamburi Rugby Super Series, according to a report conducted by Union’s auditors PKF.

Secretary General, Eddie Omondi also resigned few days before the report was out.

“One of the things that every sponsor is talking about is accountability and transparency at the board level. I didn’t suspend anyone, the board before I was elected had sanctioned forensic audit to be done and they all agreed that, if someone is mentioned he or she should step aside and that’s what exactly happened.

“I have done nothing wrong; I have just implemented what the previous board passed. One of them is fighting back saying that the report was wrong but I didn’t author the report.

“He had an opportunity to go and defend himself before PKF since he was interviewed, so if he had issues he could have cleared with them. The jury is out to decide his fate but Kenya Airways have said if he is back they are out,” Omwela explained.

The national carrier who had initially injected a-two-year deal worth Sh290m (USD2, 989,154.70) in 2011 caters for players and technical bench salaries.

In addition, each team member receives bonuses of Sh97, 000 (USD1, 000) for reaching Main Cup quarter-finals, Sh194, 000 (USD2, 000) for a semi-final advance, Sh291, 000 (USD 3,000) for reaching final and Sh485, 000 (USD 5,000) should they lift the title.