BetKing Sponsors Football Kenya Federation, SportPesa Still Out

BetKing strikes a nation-wide partnership with Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and vows support for Division One and the Kenya Women Premier League.

Football Kenya Federation Finds a Ne Sponsor in BetKing

With sports sponsorships, a little scant after the betting tax introduced by Kenyan parliament last year, the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has secured its first official title sponsor following the withdrawal of SportPesa.

As per the new deal, BetKing, a legal sports betting operator, will offer $11.1 million for the rights to represent the league. The FKF will be referred to as BetKing Premier League and each club will receive payments worth KES8 million per year in instalments.  

That is an important step forward towards restoring operations within Kenyan soccer, after SportPesa was forced to leave in August 2019 following a dispute over taxes and whether back taxes should be paid. 

SportPesa argued that all fiscal commitments have been met in full, but the government opposed and expected to collect more for the state coffers. SportPesa responded by quitting the country and withdrawing from all sponsorship deals, many of which supported domestic soccer teams.

Many clubs were forced to seek fans’ support to be able to survive or look for alternative partners. FKF President Nick Mwendwa was pleased with the news and had this to say:

“Our players and club officials have had it rough over the past few years because of an underfunded league. I am happy today to announce BetKing Kenya as our title sponsor in the biggest deal in our history.”

The absence of SportPesa has been palpable and particular in the context. Following SportPesa’s decision to leave, Betin, Kenya’s second-largest sportsbook, did the same, significantly reducing tax income for the country.

Betin sponsored AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia, both of which were out of a sponsor until Betsafe, a Betsson brand, agreed to extend sponsorship deals to both clubs. BetKing will forward $120,000 as part of the deal within the first seven days and will then disburse three installments of $694,000 before the season kicks off.

BetKing to Support Female and Second Tier Football

BetKing will also allocate KES10 million to the Kenya Women Premier League and sponsor Division One, a second-flight league. Division One soccer clubs will receive KES100,000 annually.

Division One club Buruburu Sports FC chairman Patrick Orwako has thanked BetKing’s sponsorship and argued that thanks to the funding, many clubs will now be able to cover transport costs when they play away matches.  

Meanwhile, there has been some progress made in reevaluating the attitude towards the proposed sports betting tax. The parliament has repealed the previous bill that had caused the mass exodus of the country’s leading gambling operators.

SportPesa has not confirmed a return date and particularly in light of another statement made by the Treasury Secretary that the government will reintroduce the tax nevertheless and before 2020 is out.  

Rumors about a potential return of SportPesa have been swirling, but there has been no confirmation.

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