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SportPesa exit: It just a sad day for Kenyan football – Mwendwa

5:10 PM EDT 8/9/19
FKF boss reveals to Goal the decision by the betting firm to withdraw their sponsorship will affect the start of the Kenyan Premier League

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa has termed the decision by SportPesa to withdraw their sponsorship as a big loss for the country.

Speaking to Goal, Mwendwa says the move will affect the day to day running of football in the country and unless something urgent is done, ‘we are in for a rough time.’

“It is a sad day for Kenyan football, football has lost and it is a huge loss,” Mwendwa told Goal in an exclusive interview.

“We must regroup and meet immediately to chat the way forward, but as it stands, even the start of the league will be a pipe dream. I can assure you we might not be able to start the league as earlier planned.”

SportPesa confirmed on Friday they were pulling out of sponsoring all sport-related activities after a prolonged battle with KRA over taxes.

In a statement, the firm said, “We regrettably wish to announce that due to the uncertainty of this situation, SportPesa will be cancelling sports sponsorships effective immediately.

“All clubs and partners will have received notices as provided for in their contracts.”

KPL CEO Jack Oguda has also stated the move will definitely derail the start of the new season.

“It is a huge blow for us now because the decision by SportPesa has scuttled all the plans we had for the new season,” Oguda told Goal in an interview.

“It will be a challenge for the teams who have been depending on money from the sponsors to honour their day to day activities, even pay players and also travel for away matches.

“We have been thrown back to those days [1995] when we used to run the league without a sponsor, it is very difficult to make it and the next move will be decided by the owners of the league, who are the clubs.”

On April 1, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i vowed to introduce tough measures to regulate the betting sector, which he accused of leading the youth astray. He gave all firms three months up to July 1 to seek the renewal of licenses upon proving tax compliance.

Among the conditions that betting and gaming firms had to meet before having their licences renewed is to be tax-compliant. SportPesa is among the 27 betting firms whose licences the government refused to renew over a tax row.