When Nakumatt FC first made headlines in the Kenyan football scene, every player wanted to be associated with the club. Not that they were the best performers in the second tier then, but going by the salaries they were giving and the allure of a job at the supermarket chain, every footballer wanted to work for them knowing that at the end of the day, they'd have a good take home package; and at Nakumatt it was good pay.
Not so many years have elapsed since the team came into existence and they are on the verge of going down due to financial difficulties. They can no longer raise money for lunch and are depending on well-wishers to see them through.
There is some myth that football is a sport that investors have shunned and the mentality has been borrowed by the clubs in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL). The begging mentality being the order of the day, this exhibited by the big clubs in the country but a certain research by Sportskeeda, who concentrated on English Premier League giants Manchester United gave a clue on what our clubs should do to be self-sustainable.
Basic ways of earning
The body found out that the club is run from basic issues that we ignore here each day, ranging from match day activities to broadcasts. Of their entire revenue, match day activities forks in 29%, broadcast and media 44% with sponsorships which our clubs depend on so much, contributing just a mere 27%. Other areas where the club generates their revenues are, match day tickets, season and separate suites tickets, travel, programs, catering and hospitality, TV deals for domestic matches, TV deals for continental games, TV rights worldwide, non match-day activities (catering, tours) and branded products among others.
Of the above listed avenues, it is true our clubs have a long way to go to match some of the revenue sources but there are avenues that our clubs have failed to exploit. Season tickets, branded merchandise, TV deals are just some avenues that our clubs have failed to exploit.
Fans playing a major role
Football business is not any other business and with fans being the stakeholders of this business, its one business that must be handled with care. I say care because, their investment come in the form of emotions. Be it through fighting for a title, fighting relegation or just coming up against a rival, they have to be pleased if they are to invest in the team. Without pleasing the fans, your football business is as good as dead.
Apart from the fans aspect, for a club to get it right in this business, the management, from the top, must be right. The management must have a clue of what they are doing, picking people who, in one way or the other have no clue about what running a football club entails is a step to a messy path. Browse through the names sitting in the management of our clubs then you’ll realize where the problem lies. You can’t be picking fights with fans and your fellow managers everyday on social media and expect to attract suitors. You can’t be beating up your employees (here players) every night, call a pastor to pray for their sins and expect to earn rewards from football; it’s never going to happen.
If you are going to sit on top of any club management, you have to ensure that any income generated, however small it might look, is re-invested in the team. Club bosses in the country have used this income to finance their own external, non-football-related activities and the result has always been there for all to see.
Lastly, the business that is football must cater for those who make it happen; the players. I think it’s time the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) introduced a wage cap for players; “KPL players should not be earning less than this”. If this had been introduced during Nakumatt’s entrance in the local scene, it could have saved a lot of money.
It is not even fair for a player in the NSL to be earning more money than a player in the top flight. If the level of player wages were contractually guaranteed dependent on the division in which clubs compete, clubs would instantly be placed on a sounder financial footing.