Mathare United faults govt's stimulus package

Mathare United players take a water break during their Kenyan Premier League match against Bandari at the Mbaraki Stadium, Mombasa on February 22, 2020. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Mathare, which enjoys a Sh20 million annual sponsorship courtesy of gaming company Mozzart Bet, is among the 12 KPL sides set to benefit from the stimulus programme by the government through the Ministry of Sports. 

Kenyan Premier League side Mathare United has faulted the Ministry of Sports' financial aid to sportsmen, whose source of livelihood has been hampered due to coronavirus. 

Almost all sports events have been canceled and the government started by distributing food packages and money to vulnerable athletes.

Last week, 12 KPL clubs and some Women Premier League (WPL) were added to the fray with 25 players and five officials from the clubs receiving Sh10,000 each per month for the next three months. 

However, some clubs feel the numbers are limiting since most of them have over 25 players and five officials. Mathare United has now written to the Ministry of Sports over the same. 

“With only a few exceptions, our players and officials were raised in poor families and are solely dependent of their salaries to maintain their own family. In most cases, they also use their salaries to support members of their extended family such as parents and siblings.

As you know, in 2019 our teams were forced to play a full season plus an additional half on our already tight one season annual budgets. As a result, our team as well as the majority of other KPL teams have struggled financially since mid-2019.

With the stoppage of KPL matches in early March this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our team is unfortunately among that majority of KPL teams unable to pay full salaries tor March and subsequent two months,” a letter addressed to Deputy Sports Commissioner Jaxon Indakwa and signed by Mathare United Chairperson Bob Munro and CEO Jecton Obure reads in part,

“As explained is many previous communications between our club and the Ministry, the majority of KPL players and officials now owe rent arrears for at least 2-3 months. In addition to facing imminent eviction as their June rent is due this week, they and their families now face an increasingly desperate housing, hunger and health crisis.

As all our players and officials are now suffering and the Ministry has set lower limits on the number to be assisted, we would appreciate your advice on objective and fair criteria to be applied when deciding which full-time players and officials should be included or excluded,” it adds. 

Mathare is also requesting the Ministry of Sports to drop the condition that the help will only be extended to Kenyan players. 

“Moreover, last Friday our team was informed of a new requirement to include only Kenyan players. However, our players and payroll include a South Sudanese refugee living in Nairobi whose mother and six brothers/sisters are in the Kiryadongo refugee camp in Uganda and also depend on his team salary. On humanitarian grounds, is it fair and reasonable to exclude him and his family?” the letter questions. 

“Last week the Ministry announced Sh20 million had been allocated to help 420 KPL players and officials with a Sh10,000 monthly grant for the next 3 months. That adds up to Sh12.6 million Can you kindly clarify how the balance of Sh7.4 million will be used?” 

The club also questioned how the monies in the Sports Fund are used. 

“Based on government documents, it is reported that the betting industry monthly revenue in May 2019 was Sh30 billion. Taking into account the 15% Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) tax plus the 20% withholding tax on winners' pay-outs, the Sports Fund should have received at least Sh5.8 billion in May 2019 and, with similar revenue in other months, at least Sh70 billion in 2019. Under the revised 2018 Sports Fund regulations, 35% of its revenue is allocated to sports. Can you kindly clarify how the over Ksh 24b for sports was used and/or allocated,” the letter continues to question. 

Mathare, which enjoys a Sh20 million annual sponsorship courtesy of gaming company Mozzart Bet, is among the 12 KPL sides set to benefit from the stimulus programme by the government through the Ministry of Sports. 

Tusker, Ulinzi Stars, KCB, Bandari, Wazito and Posta Rangers have been excluded from the programme as they are corporate clubs. 

However, Posta Rangers coach Sammy “Pamzo” Omolo has requested the government to review the list to include all teams in the top-tier as most of the teams that have been omitted are also struggling to pay their players and staff. 

Sofapaka and AFC Leopards took to Twitter to thank the government for the noble initiative. 

“We are grateful to the government for the incentive. Each player received Sh10,000 to mitigate the current hard times due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sofapaka tweeted. 

“We would like to extend our gratitude to Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed for spearheading the entire process of ensuring that KPL clubs receive a share of the government’s stimulus package. The club and players are very grateful after receiving this month’s subsidy,” Ingwe tweeted. 

On the WPL teams, players from Gaspo and Vihiga Queens have already received their stipends while the rest will receive on the course of the week.