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The folly of corporate sports clubs ownership in Kenya
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|The folly of corporate sports clubs ownership in Kenya by Kenyans247(1): Sat 14, November, 2020 09:19am|
If miracles do happen, then the very existence of Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards, should be considered as such.
It’s mind-boggling how clubs that have made a habit of living off handouts have survived for more than half a century.
The irony is that for all their success and longevity, these two clubs are perpetually in a crisis.
No single season passes without incidents of players and the technical bench staging a go slow over delayed salaries and allowances.
At Gor Mahia, the fans have become accustomed to the predictable trend of coaches absconding at the end of the season in the pretext of taking a ‘vacation’. Only that they never return from vacation.
Leopards have not fared any better with regard to holding on to their players and coaches for the long term.
And we’ve not even mentioned the administrative chaos that could as well be the two clubs’ by-name.
In truth, other than their fabled history and success on the pitch, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards could just be your local pub teams by another name.
But this is really not about Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards. It’s about their well-financed peers who have failed the test of time.
My heart goes out to Chemelil Sugar who this week became the latest corporate-owned football club in the country to bite the dust.
Before Chemelil’s slow and painful death, the lights had gone off for Kenya Power siblings Western Stima, Coast Stima and Nairobi Stima earlier in the year at the onset of Covid-19 pandemic.
Sad and unfortunate as it is, this has proved to be the destiny of company-owned clubs in Kenya.
While nearly all sporting disciplines in the country have suffered the curse of corporate ownership of clubs, it is football clubs that have been dealt the heaviest blow over the years.
Scarlet, KTM, Panpaper, Rivatex, Eldoret KCC, Mumias Sugar, Utalii, Kenya Pipeline, Oserian Fastac, Karuturi Sports, Nakumatt, Western Stima and now Chemelil Sugar. The list is endless.
All these clubs competed in the top-tier league at one time or the other. Today, they are merely a distant memory in the minds of the fans.
There is a pattern here though. Most of the parent companies that founded and sponsored these clubs have gone the same route.
But there have been some curious instances of highly-profitable companies suddenly cutting loose their equally well-performing teams.
That is what happened in 2003 when Oserian Development Company, the leading flower exporter back then, ditched the high-flying Oserian Fastac who had just won two league titles on the bounce.
Top rugby clubs under corporate sponsorship have suffered a similar fate in the past.
StanChart RFC, Ulinzi RFC and Barclays Bank RFC easily come to mind. The latter endeared me to the sport in the early 90s through their famous mini-rugby program.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking case is that of the all-conquering Telkom Orange women’s hockey team who were bumped off by their parent company mid last year.
Their 21 league titles and 10 continental crowns didn’t count for anything.
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