Financial woes persist in Kenya Premier League despite sponsorship gains

Only this season, almost all the clubs have at one point admitted to suffering financial constraints or delayed payment in players' salaries

Veteran and ardent followers of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) will agree almost unanimously that the current fortunes in the top flight are the best ever in the history of the competition.

From a time - not so long ago, where the league was managed on an almost zero budget, to date where corporate companies are fighting amongst themselves to be associated with Kenyan football's most vibrant brand, it will be safe to recount that the turn around from rags to riches is almost complete.

But wait a minute. The above seems the tune from one end on the other side however, it’s a different story altogether.

Corporate institutions inject sponsorship monies into Kenyan football to the tune of Ksh200 million per year. According to the agreement, 70-80 percent of these monies are channeled directly to the clubs. The rest is reserved by the management for 'administrative purposes.'

In addition, 14 of the 16 clubs in the top flight have separate sponsorship arrangements with companies, financial backers and owners. The highest deal involving AFC Leopards is believed to be in the range of Ksh20 million.

It’s therefore, mind boggling in the wake of this figures, for one to read of and witness the consistent reports of financially strapped clubs in the same competition.

Only this season, almost all the clubs have at one point either admitted to suffering financial constraints, or seen players complain about delayed payment in salaries and allowances.

Sofapaka President Elly Kalekwa, whose side has witnessed a turn around over the past few years from being one of the richest clubs in the country to a struggling outfit, says this money is supportive but not enough.

"The monthly amount I get from the broadcast rights and title sponsors is only enough for me to prepare the team for one match, I don’t have a salary at Sofapaka, I dip into my own pocket to the tune of Ksh15-25 million each season. I think it's time most sponsors’ embraced Kenyan football.”

Only this week, officials, technical bench and players from Gor Mahia FC, one of the financial stable sporting institutions in Kenya, let everyone who dared listen know that the club sponsor had defaulted on paying the salaries of players for the month of September 2012.

That is beside the point. The point is the move led the club's operations to a standstill, forcing the club chairman Ambrose Rachiel to dig into his pocket to facilitate the payments.

The other evidence at disposal point to the direction of mismanagement and embezzlement.

On this account, relegation candidates Rangers FC quickly come to mind. The club has undergone severe financial constraints, since parent company Postal Corporations withdrew their support at the beginning of the 2011 season.

Thereafter, the team 'officials' faced widespread criticism from players and fans for pocketing most of the monthly remittance from the TV rights holders.

The club is now on the verge of relegation, with several current players and technical bench claiming unpaid dues.

City Stars FC will probably fall into this category. All said and done its better to view the cup as half full rather than half empty.

Optimism will be garnered from the fact that the current situation is miles better than the past. The future then can only be better.