OMBATI:Sportpesa exposed the poor governance of Kenyan football

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Fully packed Kasarani stadium during yesterday’s match. PHOTO/Courtesy

Kenyan football has for long remained in poor state, evidenced by the struggles local teams are facing in the competition. Most Kenyan matches are played in empty or rather stadiums with less attendance. As a matter of fact, only Gormahia and AFC Leorpards enjoy a good share of gate collections because of their large following in Kenya. Why has it been difficult for fans whom we saw yesterday at Kasarani to attend local games?

The biggest setback to the progress of Kenyan football is the leadership,from the government through the ministry of Sports,Culture and Heritage, the Football Kenya Federation, Kenyan Premier League and club officials. These governing bodies are led by individuals who think that it is a duty for fans to bring themselves to the stadium.

Let me take you through how Sportpesa are succeeding where for long our sports leadership is failing.

Sunday,7th July was added as another historic day in Kenyan football as millions of fans witnessed an enticing clash between Kariobangi Sharks of Kenya and English Premier League side Everton Fc at Moi International Sports Centre,Kasarani.

The International friendly match was sponsored by lottery and gaming giants, Sportesa. This was the third time a Kenyan side has faced the EPL Side with Gormahia having done so previously twice in Tanzania and England.

Kasarani stadium was packed to the brim, with an estimated attendance of 64,849 fans.The stadium’s full capacity is close to 66,000. But how comes many people were able to grace this occasion?


Yesterday’s match started being advertised almost a month ago in the media. This included the mainstream media through television,radio and print. These are services whose advertising fee is dearly paid for but they do carry a lot of conviction. Why? Because at least 80% of the Kenyan population (Currently estimated over 50Million people) can get access to either a television, radio or print material including newspapers,magazine’s, posters e.t.c.

By investing heavily in advertising, Sportpesa are sure of reaching out to millions of people not only about the match,but also their brand products.

Apart from the mainstream media, the event was successfully marketed across all social media platforms. These include Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where the event was the subject of discussion. With the advent in technology, we can all agree that millions of Kenyans have access to social media and thus they got the advert of the event in one way or another.

Why would Sportpesa invest on all that despite the fact that only around 66,000 people can attend the event? It’s simple: Brand Marketing.

Through an event like this of Kariobangi Sharks against Everton, the gaming giants successfully marketed their brand. At least 80% of the population was exposed to their products either directly or indirectly. The game was aired by the media, and that means they enjoyed a wider market globally


The ticketing of the match was 100/= for terraces and 1000/= for VIP. The message is very simple; Sportpesa didn’t want to put the match expensive which could hinder attendance. Instead, they made it very cheaply to attract many people. Let me take you through this calculation. We are doing away with VIPs and estimate the attendance to 65,000 regular tickets. That is 65,000*100= 6.5Million Kenyan Shillings. Do you see the logic? Despite them sponsoring the whole event in their budget,they easily made over 6.5 Million Kenyan Shillings. This money could cater for some of the event’s expenses,including sorting out matches expenses including hiring the stadium, security, officiating,ticketing,entertainment,media coverage e.t.c. Can we comfortably say Sportpesa could have organized the event at a lesser budget? Of course yes!

What can we learn from the organization of yesterday’s event? What message do we get as leaders, officials, stakeholders or fans of Kenyan football? How will our clubs benefit from high match attendances?

The governing bodies have an uphill task in emulating some of the tactics deployed during yesterday’s match. Gone are the days we used to see our local clubs enjoying support from fully packed stadiums. Nowadays, even the Mashemeji derby’s attendance is wanting.

The leadership should put up measures to markert the local clubs for sponsors and attract fans to the stadium. For instance, how can the KPL be aired for free yet the clubs being televised are struggling to even honour their matches? How could we witness fixtures being rolled because a team failed to honour their match?

Our local clubs cannot keep on depending on the small monthly grants offered by sponsors.They should deviate ways of sourcing for other finances to cater for their expenses.

It is true we have long way to go but a journey starts with a single step.It’s a wake up call to our ‘dead’ Kenyan football governing bodies to resurrect and improve the standards of our sport. Our local clubs are struggling because of lack of sponsorships, financial crisis, greed and corruption. Being a player in Kenya is no longer a career but a charity due to delayed salaries and unpaid allowances.

It is with such backgrounds that even our National team can’t shine in International competions yet Kenya is a hotbed of talents.

It is a high time that we come together to make Kenyan football great again!

(The writer is a Sports Journalist and Editor at this website.He is also a PR and Marketing strategist and has authored the research: Challenges Facing the Sporting Industry in Kenya,a case study of the Kenyan Premier League which is awaiting publication as a book.)

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Paul Ombati is a journalist, news editor, creative, and passionate content writer. He is also a digital marketing strategist with special interest in influencing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). To reach out to him, Email: Follow him on Facebook , Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter using the icons below.

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