After having signed a $11 million, five-year deal in 2020, sports betting operator BetKing Kenya terminated its deal with the Football Kenya Federation Premier League on Friday.
The FKF and BetKing ended the deal four years early, with the operator stepping down as title sponsor with immediate effect. Even though the reasons behind the termination of the agreement are not clear, the developments took place after speculation arose on social media Wednesday about BetKing having expressed a desire to walk out.
This decision also affects Kenya’s Division One league, which relied on the sponsor for support.
BetKing became the first title sponsor of the Premier League through the original agreement, after SportPesa, the country’s largest betting operator, withdrew from the Kenyan market in 2019 and ceased all sponsorship.
In a letter signed jointly by FKF President Nick Mwendwa and BetKing Kenya country director, Ivana Ristic, the two parties communicated the end of the sponsorship and stated.
Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa.
“The Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and BetKing Kenya jointly announce that we have reached a mutual agreement to terminate our existing sponsorship contracts for the BetKing Premier League and BetKing Division One League”, it read. “Unreservedly, FKF confirms that the support received from BetKing has played a crucial part in fostering the growth of the local football game”.
The letter continued, “Despite the mutual agreement to now terminate this partnership, FKF appreciates BetKing’s support and partnership over the past season”.
“BetKing Kenya equally appreciates the opportunity to sponsor the leagues in line with BetKing’s brand mission”, the representative of the brand wrote.
BetKing said they were still committed to participating in the growth of Kenya’s sporting talents, particularly at the grassroots levels through solid and long-term partnerships.
SportPesa returned to the market in November 2020. Its criticism of proposed tax laws in the country and pressure on the government resulted in new regulations taken on last month, with President Uhuru Kenyatta signing into law a new 7.5% tax on gambling stakes, a reduction from the proposed 20%.