Azam’s seven-year Kenyan Premier League deal prompts clubs’ questions

Credit: FKF
Credit: FKF

A seven-year broadcast rights deal announced by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) with the Tanzania-based Azam Media has been met with a mixture of praise and scepticism from Kenyan Premier League (KPL) clubs.

The agreement, which the FKF has announced as worth a total of $9.2m (€8.5m) - $1m this season and then increasing by $100,000 each season – gives the league its first broadcast deal since the termination in November 2021 of a seven-year contract with pay-TV broadcaster StarTimes after just one year.

Azam is to begin airing four matches from each round from the 2023-24 KPL on its pay-TV and digital platforms. The competition enters its second matchweek this weekend.

While clubs have publicly expressed their relief at finally securing funds to buy new players, they have also asked to be informed of the exact sums that will be distributed.

FKF president Nick Mwendwa told the assembled media that he was waiting for sponsorship deals to be concluded “hopefully” in the next week in order to be in a position to outline “record” sums paid to clubs.

“If we don't conclude that, then we will revert back to distributing what we have from Azam”, he said. “That's why today we didn't say how much we are giving the clubs. I am hopeful that I can say this in seven to 10 days.”

Clubs in the 18-team top flight have concerns that issued raised by Azam over taxation payments could alter the sums they are to be paid.

Raymond Oruo, chief executive of Gor Mahia, told Kenya’s Daily Nation: “I understand there are slight issues bordering on tax elements and we told them to sort out the issue with the federation so that a final amount can be agreed on. The contract we have only has the operation aspect.”

However, he added: “It is not bad because we didn’t have anything. Let’s just be optimistic that this is the start of good things.”

Cleophas Shimanyula, chairman of Kakamega Homeboyz, told the newspaper that he expected the club to receive just KES3.6m ($24,740/€22,890) per year.

“That money is not even enough for lunch and buying water when a team travels for two matches”, he bemoaned.

Dan Shikanda, chairman of the AFC Leopards, described the rights agreement struck as “better than nothing” because “nobody will come from heaven and give us a big deal for once”.

The deal marks a return to Kenyan football for Azam, which acquired rights in 2015 to the second-tier FKF Premier League in Kenya. The deal was subsequently subject of a dispute between the FKF and the MP & Silva agency.

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