Playing Unit deserves praise
First off it must be mentioned that the playing unit deserves to be commended for keeping focused on the task ahead despite all the distractions that have been fomented on the team. The coaching staff also deserves to be commended for keeping the players motivated and focused.
The fans who have already contributed to the cause also deserve to be commended. However the amount collected so far has been disappointing. Apparently some fans are still holding back due to fears about accountability. It is worth noting that the club has taken some tentative steps towards being transparent. In the long term more must be done. But at this moment, the club is in an emergency situation. So fans should contribute. The last thing we need to happen is for the players to lose momentum and focus because they cannot pay their rent and are being thrown out by landlords.
Fans need an update on negotiations with KRA
Now to the gist of this article which is that the club has not updated the fan base with regards to their deliberations with the KRA. All we have heard so far from the secretary general Chris Omondi is that the club has sent overtures to KRA. This is not enough. The issue must be resolved as soon as possible. To begin with KPL announced that they will not disburse any money to Gor Mahia until an agreement is reached between the club and the KRA. Secondly no sponsor will consider aligning with the club until the standoff with KRA is amicably resolved. And finally the amount cited by KRA (ksh 118 million) is ridiculous. Fans deserve an explanation from KRA about what the real amount that the club owes is.
Extend your appeal beyond just fans
So far the club has been reaching out to fans. However the club should also directly appeal to businesses especially those business establishments which are frequented by fans. This includes restaurants, banks, transportation services and so forth. The fans should in turn reward the support of these businesses by patronizing them. This way Kogalo fans and people of goodwill can use their financial muscle in more ways than just contributing via MPESA and support those businesses that offer support to the club.
The club should also extend its appeal to other members of the public besides the fan base. You can do this by highlighting all the positive aspects of this club which have been well documented on this blog as well as elsewhere in the blogosphere. There are many of football lovers who are not neccesarily Gor Mahia supporters who will respond positively if the club embarks on a well organized public relations campaign.
What about diaspora based fans ?
Two weeks ago, this column mentioned that the club has not made any attempt to reach out to diaspora based fans nor made it possible for them to contribute. This is important because as you know, MPESA is not easily available outside Kenya.
So far no action has been taken in that regard.There are Gor Mahia fans and other people of goodwill elsewhere in South Africa, Europe, Australia, North America, China, the Middle East and so forth. The club should reach out to these people as well.
One way to do that is to set up an account with a money transfer service such as MoneyGram. If the fans want to remain anonymous then perhaps their contribution should be identified only via transaction number. Money transfer companies like MoneyGram and Western Union offer such a facility.
Enable fans to donate anonymously
Which brings us to the next point which is that, it is highly likely that some fans would like to contribute but remain anonymous. This can be accomplished very easily if you have a second account where donations are only identified by transaction number. This way, when a fan makes a donation, he gets a transaction number and he can check the list of donations to see if his / her donation appears. The club may end up getting a lot more donations if they can allow for anonymity.
It can be said with certainty that some fans want to be anonymous. It may therefore make more sense to identify all contributions only by a transaction number which can be cross referenced by whomever made the contribution.
The Chairman should be front and centre
As the club’s leader and the person most responsible for steering the club out of this quagmire, Chairman Ambrose Rachier should be in the media several times a week, making direct appeals not just to fans but also to the public in general.
Mr. Rachier should make it a point to address any concerns that people might have about transparency, Answer questions from the media and keep fans up to date on what is being done to resolve the issue with KRA.
Put merchandizing into overdrive
If there was ever a time when the club needed to sell merchandize it must be now. A few months back, fans were shocked to realize that the club makes no money from merchandize sales apparently due to piracy. One way to resolve this is to sell jerseys and T-shirts only at pre-determined places as is done with tickets. And also sell them at the stadium. In fact the club should be coming up with new uniform designs for sale every few months so that fans keep buying. And why stop at uniforms: The club can sell T-shirts, pens, cell-phone holders etc. Almost anything you can imagine.
Why not make replicas of these new jerseys available for sale ?
There are plenty of other opportunities. For example, Sunday May 11 was mother’s day which apparently is now celebrated by many Kenyans. The club could sell generic greeting cards on such occasions.
In the same manner that the club has partnered with Chase Bank for insurance, the club can now find a reliable partner to create and market the club’s merchandize. This partner will also come up with a plan to prevent piracy. There is plenty of money to be made in merchandizing and you can find a partner who is willing to cover the initial costs and recoup them with sales.
Once again the members of the EC who initiated the club’s membership drive deserve to be commended. If well executed with proper accountability and transparency, it can steer the club to unprecedented heights.