The president of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF), Nick Mwendwa has suggested gambling firm BetKing’s new title sponsorship deal for the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) can help the competition move past previous challenges and develop its commercial performance.
The five-year deal is initially worth $2.2m per season with this increasing by 5 per cent in the second year and by 10 per cent each year following, taking the total value of the contract to around $12m.
Mwendwa indicated to SportBusiness that this was the highest ever value league title sponsorship on the African continent, outside of South Africa and the North African region.
He said: ““It will mean clubs will be paid up to $100k per year. It will also make media rights and other sponsorship deals more attractive and easier to sell.”
He also explained how the deal has been signed at a time when the FKF and KPL are hoping to leave behind a long period of difficult relations as the league comes back under control of the federation He said: “In Kenya and sub Saharan Africa, sport sponsorship has been a major problem.
“We normally set the trend, our league has been at the forefront in the region, but in the last two to three years we didn’t do well in terms of commercialization.”
Previously, the management of the league has been outsourced, this contract is now coming to an end in September 2020 and the federation has assumed control.
“There has been an ongoing tussle between league and the federation since 2004. We are still going to make the league independent, but we want to make sure there are strong relations between the federation and the league.’’
In terms of the relatively lucrative nature of the contract with BetKing, Mwandwa cited the competitive nature of the gambling market in Kenya as a significant factor in driving the price up.
“Gambling brands see sport sponsorship as a way to build their presence in a competitive market. We have BetKing as title sponsor of the Premier League and the third tier, but a different betting brand hold the title sponsorship rights to the second tier.”
Previously, the league’s title sponsorship rights had been held by fellow gambling firm SportPesa.
The firm had also held the main sponsor designation at English Premier League side Everton, though this deal was curtailed as the club looked to move away from the gambling industry in terms of its front-of-shirt sponsorship rights.
It is thought that the signing of the BetKing deal will enhance Mwandwa’s prospects of retaining his position ahead of the next election, which he has indicated is imminent.
It hasn’t always been plain-sailing for Mwandwa with the Kenyan federation facing questions in some quarters during his regime.
Mwandwa commented: “We have been working on our image by doing things transparently.
“I was elected five years ago, now we are trusted, there was an issue of trust, but we have progressed this.”