MKALLA: KPL lessons from Dar derby after Sh23m harvest
The Kenyan game has a lot to learn from Tanzania after their neighbours netted a cool KSh23.6m in match revenue from the Dar derby featuring arch-rivals Yanga SC and Simba SC.
That impressive sum is a figure that Kenyan Premier League (KPL) can only dream of as it continues to struggle in attracting audiences to fill its empty stadiums.
The Dar derby was attended by 58,400 fans on Saturday 4 January ending in a 2-2 draw.
Tickets for this game went for Ksh300 for regular seats, KSh800 for VIP B and C with VIP A going for KSh1200.
The amount that was collected made popular Kenyan musician King Kaka to think about local rivals AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia who have been struggling to bring back fans into the stadia for the derby.
King Kaka called on Kenyan fans to emulate the football-crazy Simba and Yanga fans ahead of the upcoming derby.
He challenged Kenyans to turn up in large numbers during the next Mashemeji Derby on Sunday 8th March at the Kasarani Stadium.
Gor Mahia won the first leg encounter 4-1 at the same venue in November 2019.
But one think that the King has to know is that this is not a challenge, its a process.
What made Tanzanian football to get to this level? Various factors contributed to this.
1. Corporate Support
Vodacom Tanzania are the title sponsors of the Tanzanian Premier League (TPL). The company signed a deal of three years to take the title sponsorship, with the league being renamed to Vodacom Premier League (VPL).
The deal is worth Tzsh 9 billion with Tzsh 3 billion (USD 1.3 million being distributed in every year for the next three years.
Tanzanian football is truly on another level with the media giving it lots of airtime.
On the other hand the Kenyan top Flight-Kenyan Premier League-lost its main sponsors, this coming a few years after SuperSport, the then official broadcaster left.
SoNy Sugar were relegated from the league after dishing three walkovers while Chemelil is only one game away from being eliminated with Nzoia Sugar FC dishing the sixth walkover when they failed to travel to Mombasa for their game against Bandari.
The leaders of the Kenya Premier League should find a lasting solution buy ensuring they are open to every penny that is invested.
2. Leadership Wrangles
Continuous wrangles between the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and KPL has played a big role in the dwindling standards of football.
The differences came when FKF wanted more teams in the top flight which KPL agreed to it but the problem came when KPL said no to FKF leading the league.
This has affected the growth of the came subsequently hurting the players and fans. KPL CEO Jack Oguda last week came out and said that they are not in a position to get a sponsor for the remaining part of the season and aren’t sure if the champions will be awarded their price money, bearing in mind that Gor Mahia FC hasn’t been awarded their last season price.
Sadly , for every negotiations that are done, it doesn’t come out clearly how the players will benefit. With all this in mind, which fan can be intrested in following such a league ? Only the diehard fans. Provided the wrangles don’t stop, most fans wont like to be associated with the local game.
3. Poor fan base
The attendance in KPL matches has been wanting for many years. KCB playing Chemelil in Machakos can hardly attract 200 fans, not to mention that most of them know very little about the teams.
Many teams dont know how to package themselves and market their boys for the local consumer. Kenyan fans love the game and this is evident whenever an English team comes to play in the East African region because the teams have something they can associate themselves with.
Apart from AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia, the other teams dont bother alot on how they can increase their fan base.
The truth, many fans like things they can associate with.
SuperSport cameras used to help alot in marking this easier by showcasing the talents and team management to the world , creating and excitement among locals to grace the stadia.
But even the few fans that still support the local game, they get no incentive to continue doing so and aren’t even appreciated. Just try to imagine in Europe a club sending emails or text to fans appreciating their association for every game and season.
How many times has the local top teams tried to played friendlies with regional combine teams and pick new talents out of those games ? I hope and pray they wake up soon.
4. Kenyans’ interest in foreign leagues
The ease of watching foreign league matches in Kenya has not helped the local league either. And other than the English Premier League, they now even follow the Tanzania Dar derby with a passion.
In the social media front ,other fans have been lashing the lot for not loving and supporting their own. But how easy or hard is it not to follow the Dar derby which has players that we marketed in the KPL a few years or months back ?
Hyping and packaging is paramount in creating interest, something our local football chiefs aren’t doing.
The truth is no one would support anything that isn’t hyped or packaged in a proper way.
If you dint know Uganda Premier League has three partners and FUFA has ten. I wonder if FKF and KPL has enough people who have knowledge about how to manage the game in a better way.
They are too preoccupied with what they will get out of the deals which they cant even attract, without looking at the broader picture. The way Yanga and Simba in Tanzania do their business makes AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia look like amateur clubs.
Look at how they handle their replica jerseys general merchandise which leads to a loss of revenue ! Not to mention how unaccountable they are with small money they get.
When the Dar derby ended , it was immediately announced that they had collected KSh23.6 Million from the gates. But here in Kenya, such information is for a selected few. We have a long way to go.
5. Local talent
Let me wind up by looking at how many local school boys are playing in the top flight. The youth are the most in the Kenyan population, but now if we do not involve them the highest level , how do we expect to increase the following of the league if we ignore the ones involved in the level with the most following which is the secondary school games?
Another thing is the average age of our local teams , given that am not sure if the ages mentioned are true, you can guess my answer to this. For example how can we attract scouts while having average age of between 27 and 35 years on the top flight ?