Kenyan football clubs AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia FC have spoken out against the proposed reintroduction of a 20% excise tax on betting sites.
The excise tax has been a major source of controversy in Kenya. When the excise tax was raised from 10% to 20% in September 2019 the country’s biggest operator SportsPesa left the market for more than a year.
Sportpesa has been previously sponsored by AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia, but the deal ended due to a dispute over 20% tax that the regulators argued included betting stakes, which was eventually resolved by a court ruling.
The excise tax was ultimately removed last year in the country’s budget which proved a key step in allowing Sportpesa to return to the market.
However, the tax was reintroduced into the country’s financial bill by the Kenyan Treasury last month. Parliament is set to consider the new bill that includes taxes of this month.
Considering the joint statement from Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rechier and Leopard’s chairman Dan Shikanda who was the dependent that the Kenyan sport – particularly football that also has sponsorship from betting companies was highlighted.
Shikanda and Rachier said, “The enactment of the 20% excise tax will unequivocally rule out continued sponsorship of football clubs across all tiers, with the net effect of rendering the operations of most of the league teams unsustainable.”
“As you may be aware, our clubs have been facing extremely challenging financial times and with this tax, which will render our primary sponsors unable to continue with their partnerships, it will certainly be an own goal on Kenyan football as it would disrupt if not enforce the suspension of the second half of the season.”
Shikanda and Rechier continue to add, “We as representatives of the top tier football clubs in Kenya and by extension, the sports fraternity feel that this tax proposal is ill-timed, and make a strong appeal to the government and members of parliament to make special considerations on this exigent matter, and give the sports clubs a fighting chance during these difficult times.”