Everything associated with Kenyan football is slowly becoming a plague. Like the book of Revelation in the Holy Book, everyone is slowly being advised to leave so that they don’t share in our sins and receive our plagues.
The state of sports in the country has always been a worry in the past few years but last year it hit rock bottom especially for football. The Kenyan top Flight-Kenyan Premier League-lost its main sponsors; this coming a few years after SuperSport, the then official broadcaster left the game in the dark.
Struggles have seen SoNy Sugar get eliminated from the league after dishing three walkovers. Chemelil is only one game away from being eliminated with Nzoia Sugar FC dishing the sixth walkover of the season last weekend when they failed to travel to Mombasa for their game against Bandari.
🇹🇿 Dar Derby attracts increased Kenyan interest
The poor state of the league has forced the local fans to cast their eyes elsewhere with a chunk having watched the Tanzania Dar Derby between arch-rivals Simba SC and Yanga over the weekend; others travelling to Tanzania to witness the game that attracted 58400 fans.
Like it has always been, the Dar derby has generated debate with the Kenyan fans not left behind. Others claim that their fellow, who watched the game are not patriotic enough to support their own league. Others blaming those in charge of the game of laxity to market their game.
The truth is no one would support anything that isn’t hyped or packaged in a proper way. KPL and the Football Kenya Federation has done less work in marketing their game and they have no one to blame. Both bodies had the opportunity to have other sponsors on board when there was a main sponsor as done by the Uganda Premier League (who have three partners) and FUFA (ten partners) but instead, they were contented.
Both bodies are filled with people who have little knowledge about how to manage the game in a better way. They are too preoccupied with what they will get out of the deals without looking at the broader picture.
When you look and how Yanga and Simba do their business, you’d easily have a feeling that our biggest clubs-AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia-are amateur clubs. For instance, both Gor and Leopards can’t even afford replicas for their fans; an area that has allowed anyone to sell fake merchandise which leads to a loss of revenue by both clubs. They are constantly on the news for lack of accountability when money is sent their way.
The Dar Derby, for instance, showed the Kenyan football leaders what accountability can earn you. The game itself earned host Simba Ksh 23.6 Million; an amount that was revealed openly. That hasn’t been the case back home where the collection during the Mashemeji Derby is just an information for a selected few. Mostly when it is out in the public, the payments made to unnecessary people or groups make one wonder if the same leaders see football on a business angle.
📉 Poor attendance figures
In the Dar debate, many asked why the local games are not well attended. It has been a miracle to spot more than a 100 fans in a game involving a team like Tusker FC and Posta Rangers yet these are some of the best-financed teams in the top flight.
The secret lies in how the said teams are packaged and the image they give everyone in the public. The notion that Kenyan fans don’t love football is a proper fallacy. The same people filled MISC Kasarani to the rafters when the then English Premier League Hull City visited the MISC Kasarani with a good number making it to Tanzania to watch Gor Mahia take Everton FC.
The truth, many fans like things they can associate with. It’s easy for a fan to root for Chelsea, or the great Manchester United when they can easily access their genuine replicas and see them week in week out. Apart from Gor and Leopards fans, a chunk of these fans who have no teams to associate with find it hard to associate with the other teams since they rarely access information from the said teams When SuperSport switched off its camera on the KPL, it made it even worse.
Apart from the grants SuperSports were providing to the teams, they showcased the Kenyan game to the entire world. It created a little excitement to those who couldn’t make it to the stadiums and ardent fans at least had an idea or two about teams; not now. How would anyone root for somebody or some team he has no idea about?
People forget that in 2010, we lost seven fans because of a stampede at Nyayo Stadium in the Mashemeji Derby; a sign that if the fans have teams to associate with then they’ll do all they can to watch them play and support them in any way they can. It's not long ago when Gor Mahia fans used to collect money amongst themselves when Milk Company Tuzo left the team. AFC Leopards has done that severally, Muhoroni Youth too but that can no longer work because the players themselves have nothing to fight for.
💪🏾 Power-play between Kenyan governing bodies
Wrangles between FKF and KPL hasn't helped the situation either. FKF President Nick Mwendwa has in the past said KPL had made it hard for them and hence they won't be working with them when the season begins. The tug of war started when FKF wanted more teams in the top flight which KPL agreed to; the problem coming when KPL denied FKF the chance to lead the league.
There has been a lot of blood between both entities and it has blocked growth at the expense of players and fans who are the main custodians of the game. KPL CEO Jack Oguda has continuously promised that they are knocking doors for potential sponsors but nothing has been forthcoming. He claimed too that they had a deal with Laliga in matters broadcasting, but no one is saying how the Kenyan player is benefiting from that deal.
With no prize money for the title, and teams who depended on funds from the league sponsors and broadcaster struggling even to honour games why would any fan bother to go watch a game? Fans got nothing to do with the dwindling state of the Kenyan game, FKF and KPL should solely take the blame.