Inconsistencies, lies and half truths are the weighty matters that incredulous Kenyan football fans are still trying to sieve from the alleged sponsorship deal entered between Football Kenya Federation and a betting firm that is yet to start operations in Kenya.
A lone Nick Mwendwa, the FKF president stood on the podium on Thursday to announce the marriage between BetKing Kenya and the country’s top tier football league(KPL). The deal, according to the FA boss, will see each of the 18 KPL clubs receive at least KSh8 million per year for the next five years. BetKing is expected to pump in a staggering KSh1.2 billion by the end of the 2025/6 season.
But most Kenyan fans are not entirely convinced that there is a genuine deal. And rightfully so. That’s what you get when you tell a lie so many times!
This is not the first time that Mwendwa has promised Kenyans something that he never delivered.
Just months after he took over the management of Kenyan football, Mwendwa engineered a legal battle with the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) as he pushed for the expansion of the league by two teams. After a lengthy push and shove that saw the delay in the start of the season, he finally had his way. But there were grave consequences!
First to go was South African pay television channel Supersport who were the then league broadcast partner. SuperSport terminated their deal with the KPL citing breach of contract.
But a wily Mwendwa would later win the confidence of a few gullible Kenyans when he promised that the federation would cater for the expenses of the two additional teams. That never happened.
To win more ground and support from fans following SuperSport’s exit, Mwendwa had promised that FKF would shoot the matches then distribute the feeds to a free to air channel. Despite the fact that the federation actually received funds from Fifa to set up an in-house production, the outside broadcasting (OB) van is yet to be delivered. Kenya now stands to lose KSh125 million paid to a broke British firm, WTS, who were put under receivership a few months after Mwendwa’s administration trusted the company to deliver the OB Van.
With the many lies told over time, Kenyans are now sceptical that the recently ‘signed’ deal with BetKing could be another major fib.
One of the things that raised eyebrows during the official announcement of the new marriage, was the absence of any of Betking at FKF offices. Only Mwendwa and Barry Otieno, the embattled federation CEO who could face up to seven years in jail should he be found guilty of perjury (lying under oath), stood alone on a dark dais as they made the announcement.
Not even a single banner bearing the name or logo of the ‘new sponsor’ was on display.
Mwendwa defended the decision saying that the official decision will be made in September. It is worth noting that September 24 is when the Kenyan Premier League Limited’s contract to run the league, on behalf of the federation is set to expire.
But the one ethical question lingers: Why would Mwendwa, an experienced sports administrator, go public and announce a new deal when he knows very well that FKF still has a binding contract with KPL, and should he be negotiating any sponsorships as long as they are still in office?
Mwendwa has made it clear that they will not renew the deal with KPL beyond September.
As if that was not confusing enough, according to Mwendwa, BetKing will be the official KPL title sponsor, but according to the information posted on the gaming firm’s Twitter page, they will be the “KPL Betting sponsors”.
“We are proud to announce that we are the official betting sponsors of the FKF Premier League from 2020/21 season, for the next five years.
“The FKF Premier League is now known as the BetKing Premier league,’ read a tweet from BetKing.
BetKing Kenya is a subsidiary of the BetKing Nigeria but one striking contradiction is on the logos of the two firms. Unlike most betting firms like SportPesa and Betika that use the same logo and colours even when they operate in two different countries, Betking Nigeria and BetKing Kenya have a totally different logo and corporate colours.