NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4- Kenya Harlequins, one of the oldest rugby clubs in the country has signed a partnership with local betting firm SportPesa who will be the club’s shirt sponsors for an initial five-year period, with room for a further five-year extension.
Both the club and the sponsors did not disclose the exact amount involved in the deal, though Capital Sports understands it might be in the region of over Sh50 million, with a percentage increment every year.
“The deal is wholesome, and so it will not be easy to quantify it. To say it lightly, we have given a blank cheque to Harlequins. It is a deal covering a range of things in the club from salaries, allowances to kitting and infrastructure,” Yvonne Namai, the SportPesa head of sponsorships said as the club unveiled the deal on Friday.
As part of the new deal, the team will now change its name to SportPesa Quins.
“We want to thank SportPesa for coming on board because this will change the way things are done at the club. I am proud because we have come a long way. This will go a long way in lifting Quins from where we are to where we want to be,” Mike Lucas, the Kenya Harlequins chair said as he unveiled the new partners.
This is the second partnership SportPesa has with rugby, having signed a Sh600mn partnership with the Kenya Rugby Union earlier on in the year and are set to be the Kenya Sevens shirt sponsors for the new season.
“Kenya Harlequins was a very key investment to have due to their global partnership because SportPesa is going global. Our focus is from Kenya to the rest of the world,” Namai added on why the firm chose to sponsor Quins.
According to Lucas, the betting firm has also committed to rehabilitating and upgrading the Kenya Rugby Football Union grounds along Ngong’ Road, the facility which also doubles up as the Quins home ground.
“This partnership will go a long way in ensuring the players are looked after. It will also ensure our facilities are up to date. They will be upgraded. Playing games here in the near future will be the choice. Hopefully we can bring Safari Sevens back here because we will raise the standards to the ones required at the highest level,” Lucas said.
The team is set to contract 40 of its 73 players as semi professionals and they will be entitled to better salaries and allowances.
Meanwhile, Quins will adopt two lower tier clubs, Dagoretti Bulldogs and Kitale RFC as part of their Community Social Responsibility (CSR) projects, giving them kitting, technical and financial support.