by Juma Pondamali
Betting giants SportPesa has bounced back into football sponsorship dishing out contracts worth sh 682 million.
The beneficiaries of the mega deal include soccer giants and perennial rivals Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards, the Kenya Premier League (KPL) and Football Kenya Federation (FKF).
In January, SportPesa withdrew its sponsorship to the four entities leaving them in distress and almost bankrupt.
It will now pump Sh259 million KPL as title sponsors, while Sh69 million will go to FKF in running the domestic cup, formerly known as GOtv Shield. Consequently, the 64-team tournament will now be called SportPesa Shield.
Gor and Leopards will each pocket Sh198 million and Sh156 million respectively.
The domestic league will once again be referred to as the SportPesa Premier League and each of the 18 clubs will get Sh270,000 as monthly grants.
“We decided to choose some of the few we had because the taxation has changed, this is what we can sustain for now and it’s the reason we came back,” SportPesa Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ronald Karauri said in a joint presser at the Ministry of Sports and Youth offices in Nairobi on Monday.
He added: “Despite the economic policy setbacks we have suffered over the past few months, we remain committed to supporting local sports as much as we can.”
Sports Principal Secretary Peter Kaberia said the government has been involved in the new deal and will ensure transparency and accountability is guaranteed.
“We’ve agreed to work with corporates but with guarantee; how long is the funding and for how much. Ours is to ensure accountability and transparency amongst the parties,” he said.
Treasury last week caved in to pressure from betting firms and proposed to cut gaming tax from 35 per cent of revenue to 15 per cent.
The proposed lower rate is contained in a bill tabled in the National Assembly by Majority Leader Aden Duale seeking to amend the Act (Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act) to reduce the amount of betting and lottery tax payable by operators.
The Kenya Rugby Union and Boxing Association of Kenya, which also previously enjoyed the sponsorship, have however been left out.