- Just to pick some examples, in 1968 broke Ingwe hinted they may not honour an Africa Cup of Champions Cup away fixture to St George of Ethiopia because of lack of funds, same case with a hard up K’Ogalo in the 1978 Cup Winners Cup semis stage against Horoya
So AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia football clubs may not participate in this year’s Caf Africa Club tournaments because SportPesa have turned off their money supply taps?
I have yet to decide whether to laugh or cry. In the meantime, let the following historical dispatches from the pages of Nation Sport tell their own story before we can draw any conclusions about the funding debacle Kenya’s top football clubs currently find themselves mired in.
First a brief background. In 1968, as national league champions of the previous year, Abaluhya FC were taking part in the Africa Cup of Champion Clubs for the first time. It is today’s Caf Champions League. The future AFC Leopards were paired with Ethiopia’s St George in their two-leg first round match. Here is the Nation Sport headline of May 14, 1968: “Abaluhya’s cash problems may be solved in Addis.” Now read on:
“East African soccer champions Abaluhya will organise a final fundraising match against a top-flight Ethiopian club before they tackle St George in the first round, return leg African club championship match in Addis Ababa on May 23. Robert Shikiwe, Abaluhya’s acting secretary, said yesterday that if a match could be arranged, the side would travel to Addis Ababa earlier to play this fixture.
“Abaluhya, who have set their sights on raising 3,000 pounds for the return leg match could only raise 1,200 pounds in the first leg match in Nairobi on Sunday. Other money-raising matches in East Africa appear to be out of the question – for Abaluhya are committed to a Kenya National Football League match before their Addis Ababa trip.
“As it was, their opening league match against Maragoli on April 28 was called off because they made a fund-raising trip to Tanzania. It is unlikely the league will agree to more postponements. If Abaluhya cannot raise sufficient funds, it is expected that the Kenya FA will help them out.”
The following day, May 15, Nation Sport had this banner headline: “Now Abaluhya’s cash hopes take a nose dive.” Read more:
“Abaluhya Football Club’s hopes of financial assistance from the Football Association of Kenya took a nose dive yesterday when Job Wawire, the FA’s assistant secretary, stated that Abaluhya’s bank balance is healthy and, as such, no assistance could be given by the parent body. [The reporter should have asked Wawire how he knew that since he was neither their treasurer nor their bank manager - but let me not distract you.] Abaluhya, who have set a target of raising 3,000 pounds for the return leg Africa Cup Club Championship match against St George in Addis Ababa, collected 1,200 pounds in the first leg match in Nairobi last Sunday.
“Robert Shikiwe, Abaluhya’s acting secretary, added: “We will try to raise as much money as possible in the next few days and by the end of next week. If we are unable to reach our target, we will have no alternative but to approach the Football Association.
“If the FA cannot finance Abaluhya, then there is every possibility that Abaluhya will not be able to make the trip. This is the first time that East Africa has ventured in the Club Championship tournament and the Africa Football Confederation is likely to take a bleak view of the parent bodies not being able to subsidize their teams. Most of the other African teams in the tournament are fully subsidized by their football associations.”
Now Gor Mahia. The year was 1979 and Kenya’s 1978 league runners-up to Kenya Breweries were on a continental roll in the Africa Cup Winners Cup. It is today’s Caf Confederation Cup which is giving their in-laws sleepless nights. They themselves are facing the Champions League but SportPesa has put all that in doubt. More about that later.
SHOCKED YET AGAIN
After defeating defending champions Horoya of Guinea 1-0 in the first leg of the semi-finals in Nairobi, Kenya football fans were stunned to read the following story in Nation Sport: “Kenya’s representatives in the Africa Cup Winners’ Cup tournament, Gor Mahia, may be forced to abandon their camp unless money is found within two days to meet their training expenses. Speaking to the Nation on Friday, David Opar, vice-chairman of the club, said the club had now exhausted the funds set aside for training.
“He appealed to the public to come forward with generous donations to help the club meet the training expenses. Opar also appealed to the Kenya Football Federation officials to change their attitude of ‘isolating the club’.”
This week, January 4, 2018, Nation Sport reported: “As things are, Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards and Harambee Stars, who each only have one sponsor, have nowhere to turn to, and could even fail to honour their assignments in the not so distant future, that’s unless government intervenes or a miracle of sorts happens.