For Kenyan football, post-SuperSport era sets in
The exit of SuperSport from the local market came full circle earlier this week when the South African pay TV laid off 97 of its Kenyan employees.
According to reports, senior management will be retained for the next one month before facing a similar fate while their state-of-the-art studios located off Nairobi’s Ngong Road set to be hired out.
The MultiChoice-owned company had early April announced terminating their contract as the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) broadcast partners, a move that sent shockwaves through stakeholders of the sport across the country.
At the time, SuperSport had cited a breach in contract for pulling the plug but that action had just come on the back of a decision not to renew its Broadcast Rights Agreement for the Ghana Premier League.
What followed was another withdrawal, this time from the Nigeria Professional Football League. There has been no public admission from the broadcast giants but this pattern has led to some believing SuperSport is deliberately cutting ties with the larger African market.
No clear conclusion may be distinguished.
After unsuccessful spells of trying to woe SuperSport into reversing their decision and after months of grappling with the reality of their stunningly momentous exit, Kenyan football is on the verge of moving on.
Earlier this week, there were reports that Football Kenya Federation (FKF) had received Ksh 0.75b worth of grants from world governing body FIFA aimed at making the national federation set up and manage inhouse media activities.
When contacted by Citizen Digital later Friday, FKF Communication and PR Manager Barry Otieno denied the reports but admitted there indeed has been a draft proposal to set up a production house at FKF Goal Project Offices.
This can be viewed as a significant step given FKF and the league management had been trading blames in the immediate post-SuperSport period with each unwilling to accept culpability when their sour relationship had allegedly led out the South African firm.
SuperSport had claimed they found it impossible to verify which between the bodies had the mandate of running the country’s top flight following its expansion from 16 teams to an 18-team format.
FKF, through its president Nick Mwendwa had led the campaign that yielded in the expansion despite facing fierce resistance from KPL top chiefs including CEO Jack Oguda, Chairman Ambrose Rachier and founder Bob Munro.
The push and pull between these two bodies had seen the FKF had demoted KPL sides Muhoroni Youth and Sofapaka FC demoted to the second-tier National Super League on grounds of meeting the FIFA/CAF club licenses requirements.
In their places, Zoo Kericho, Nakumatt FC were promoted to the top flight while KCB and Vihiga United were also elevated to complete the 18-team KPL with the quartet meeting those licensing requirements.
In retaliation, the KPL stood by Muhoroni and Sofapaka forcing FKF boss Mwenda to suspend the league indefinitely.
A series of spats later saw the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) broker talks that saw the reinstatement of Muhoroni and Sofapaka and paved way for the league’s kick-off.
SuperSport only then aired live the first round of matches before they conspicuously missed three successive others that followed. It drew lots of speculation before their imminent exit came to pass.
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