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Contracted Shujaa stars set for huge pay-cut

Kenya team huddle before the game against Ireland on day one of the HSBC Canada Sevens 2020 at BC Place Stadium on 7 March, 2020 in Vancouver, Canada. Photo credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 7 – Contracted Kenya Sevens players are set for massive pay cuts from as much as 75pc for the highest earners, if current proposals by the Union go through due to the devastating financial effect the novel coronavirus has had on global sport.

Capital Sports has learnt that the Kenya Rugby Union has mooted the idea of reducing salaries for contracted players to cushion themselves from the financial burden of the virus.

“They are yet to table the letters officially but the idea they have suggested is that all players will have a flat salary of Sh24,000 beginning this month. This is a devastating amount because honestly, for people who totally depend on the game, how will they survive?” a player who sought anonymity disclosed.

Players in the team under new contracts earn a basic salary of between Sh60,000 and Sh98,000 depending on the tier and the cut will see the deductions range from 75pc for the highest earners to 60pc for the lowest earners.

KRU boss Oduor Gangla has confirmed to Capital Sport that talks are ongoing between the players and the Union for a pay cut, especially now that they will not be involved until earliest September.

Geoffrey Oduor Gangla all smiles after being elected the Kenya Rugby Union chairman. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

“This is something that we are currently in discussion with the players and I can’t divulge much details at this point. We have seen the situation the world over with people having to take pay cuts because of the effects of the virus,” Gangla said.

He added; “We all know that the Union and not just us in rugby but most other sports have been struggling financially and we are not like the European guys who have reserves. It is a tough time for sports.”

But, the players are said to be uncomfortable with the new arrangement and are questioning why the huge cut when they already saw their basic salaries reduced in the new contracts they signed.

Previously, the lowest earning player earned a basic salary of Sh100,000 while the highest would take home Sh140,000, minus travel and playing allowances.

“At the beginning of the season, we were informed that the government had given the Union Sh89mn for their activities this year. We have a lot postponed already and we don’t understand whether the money in their accounts has been depleted or not,” another player lamented.

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While Shujaa will have a part of their salary retained, the other national teams are set to suffer the worst as they are on allowance-based pay and not contracted.

Kenya Left Flanker Brian Amaitsa is tackled by a Zambia opponent during a past test match. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

The Kenya Simbas, Chipu and the Lionesses are all on per-tournament pay basis.

“They have competitions at specific periods as opposed to the Sevens so they are paid only allowances. With the current situation with most events postponed, we are trying to look at the way around it. We have discussions across the Union and soon we will get a way out,” further added Gangla.

Chipu were scheduled to compete in the Barthes Cup which was to start next week, the Lionesses were to play in World Cup qualifiers while the Simbas were to play in the Rugby Africa Cup.

“Most of our sponsorships and partnerships are based on activities and when we have not, we have no basis of getting money from our partners. We can’t justify anything,” the Union boss further noted.

Meanwhile, the Union boss says they will continue petitioning the government to come to their aid at this tough time.

“I think the President should have considered a wider group when he made his address on Monday because sports has also been greatly affected. We have been engaging the ministry and we will continue to do so as we hope for a consideration for something,” Gangla noted.

The Union has been struggling to stay afloat financially since the exit of sponsors Sportpesa.

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