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Pay TV channels fuelling Kenyan football wars

The raging spat involving officials of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and the football federation that has been on for the past few weeks, could be directly linked to the imminent entry of other Pay-Tv channels in the market, Nairobi News understands.

For a while, the tussle between these two bodies centred on decision making- as witnessed during the botched league encounters involving AFC Leopards versus Sony Sugar and Tusker versus Muhoroni Youth during the  2014 league season.

Then the war escalated a notch higher following a disagreement on whether the 2015 season’s top flight league should constitute 16 or 18 clubs, with KPL advocating for a status quo while the local federation proposing an expansion of the competition.

However, well established sources within Kenyan football circles have now revealed that there is more than meets the eye.

BROADCAST RIGHTS

According to intermediaries, two Pay Tv channels (Tanzanian based) Azam TV and Arab owned beIN SPORTS have finalized plans to penetrate the Kenyan market.

It is believed either, or both institutions, have primarily targeted the Kenyan Premier League for investment, a market currently monopolized by South African based giant SuperSport who have bought the competition’s exclusive broadcast rights for an annual fee of about Sh 200 million.

Azam Tv and/or beIN SPORTS are understood to have approached the Kenyan football administrators in the past couple of weeks and commenced negotiations while promising to table an offer that is believed to be slightly higher than the that currently offered by SuperSport.

SPORTING BRANDS

“Representatives from both sides have met twice in the past month, in Nairobi and Cairo, and the powers that be in Kenyan football are said to be very excited by this offer. Expect this confusion to escalate within the next few weeks until either SuperSport agrees to work with the federation or be pushed out of the picture altogether,” our source said.

This “offer” is understood to be what behind the current furore, with the federation, according to a statement released on Tuesday, said to be keen on taking over the day to day running and management of the league starting next season.

The Kenyan Premier League is believed to be one of the biggest sporting brands in East and Central Africa, thanks to professionalism exhibited by the management and the consistent coverage across the continent.

This is what is believed to have lured players from the wider East African region and others from as far as Cameroon and Nigeria into the league.