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SuperSport not coming back – KPL, FKF say

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Former Gor Mahia striker Michael Olunga enjoys a moment on camera after winning the Kenyan Premier League title in 2015. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 24 – The slimmest of hopes that South African Pay TV company SuperSport would re-consider their decision to pull out of broadcasting the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) have been dashed with both the KPL and Football Kenya Federation (FKF) confirming the decision will not change.

The new development will be a huge blow to the Kenyan game which had hugely benefited from the presence of the broadcasters, increasing the marketability of the league as well as visibility of the players.

After they announced their decision to pull out of a league they have sponsored since 2008, FKF took the initiative to write to the bosses in South Africa in a bid to lure them into reconsidering, but the effort has hit a brick wall.

“Yes, we got a response for SuperSport and the long and short of it is that they are not coming back,” FKF Chief Executive Officer Robert Muthomi said on Monday morning.

He added; “We have a Joint Executive Committee (JEC) meeting as well as an FKF National Executive meeting and we will sit down and discuss the way forward. There’s been some interest and we want to discuss that interest.”

His sentiments were echoed by the KPL Chief Executive Jack Oguda who has also confirmed that several new suitors have expressed interest with Capital Sports learning that Chinese company Startimes is one of those who have shown interest in picking up the broadcast deal.

“It’s an unfortunate event for Kenyan football but that doesn’t mark the end of football in our country. In the late 2000s, we didn’t have a broadcast sponsor but we still played football. For us it’s a big challenge but what we are working on is to try and value the product properly to get more partners on board,” Oguda further said.

“For us it’s a big challenge but what we are working on is to try and value the product properly to get more partners on board,” – KPL CEO Jack Oguda

The Federation and league managers are now set to work together to tie down a deal, but the likelihood of having one on board for the new season appears thin.

KPL CEO Jack Oguda says that in the least, six months are required to structure and negotiate a good deal.

Muthomi on his side has hinted the federation is considering extending KPL’s mandate to run and manage the league further than 2020 as one of the pillars of negotiating a new broadcaster for the league.

“No broadcaster will want to come and sign deal for two years because at the moment, our agreement with KPL runs till 2020. It is important that first issues of the agreement be addressed. We are talking to KPL and if the agreement is to be extended, then let it be extended because that is what the FKF want,”

“We want to give a good mandate to KPL on how to run the league then from there we can bring in a broadcast partner. We are working in tandem with them (KPL) to ensure that we have a good deal on the table,” Muthomi further stated.

The decision by SuperSport to pull out not only threw the league into darkness, but also rendered tens of employees jobless with clubs also set to suffer with a cut in their monthly grants.

Each club was budgeted to get at least Sh8mn the entire season and Oguda has indeed confirmed that there will be cuts and re-budgeting occasioned by the exit. Sources close to Capital Sport intimate that clubs might face up to a 50 percent cut in grants.

Meanwhile, both the federation and league managers have agreed they need to negotiate a better deal that will exploit all aspects, including Free to Air (FTA) partners, mobile and radio to enable clubs reap more from the value of broadcasting.

“It is not as simple as giving money and putting games on TV. There’s so much we can exploit so that we can get the best deal for the clubs. The previous deal was good and it served Kenyan football well, but it was known there were rights that were not being exploited. Now we have a chance to re-format and look at everything,” Muthomi noted.

“Our main focus at the moment is to see that we are back on TV and we get a good deal from whoever partner will come in,” Oguda further added his voice on the issue.

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