This club is in dire straits. It has been in terrible shape for several months now. Players have gone several months with little or no pay. Many key players have recently left. More are set to leave. There are reports that Simba of Dar es Salaam are planning another raid. There are reports of an impending mass exodus of players. The Chairman has not done much or anything to mitigate this quagmire.
If the league were to resume in August, the club might not even be able to honor matches because matches will be played to empty stadia. The Chairman himself admitted that he has not created a post Covid 19 plan. Where will the club get funds to honour matches?
Most fans understand that if this club were to start taking the issue of Accountability and Transparency seriously, the club can raise a lot of money. The lack of transparency is the biggest stumbling block that keeps the club and its players in poverty. Fans have read reports of gate proceeds being pocketed by officials, reports of club officials demanding bribes and clear evidence of officials under-reporting attendance. With this in mind, the fans, many of whom are not financially stable, are unwilling to blindly give their money to the club.
However what has become clear is that Chairman Ambrose Rachier does not have any intention of ever being transparent or accountable. He has made that clear. And at the age of 71, he is too set in his ways and cannot accept change. Even if he is pushed, he will only engage in half-hearted transparency measures. Just as he did with eTicketing where he tried it for one game and then gave up and made a lame excuse for why it would not work. He wants to run this club exactly how it was run in 1968 (52 years ago). And he is not open to new ideas.
However the Post Covid 19 scenario will require a different way of thinking. There will be no sponsor. And no gate collections. Even if the government re-opens business, many fans will stay away of stadia for fear of Covid 19. The normal way of running the club will not be viable.
How will the club survive?
The time has come to search for a more dynamic leader who can think out of the box. Just as fans brought Rachier to rescue the club in 2008, it is time for the different fan groups and branches to start an active search for a new Chairman.
There are over 200,000 committed Gor Mahia fans. Many of them occupy senior positions in corporations. It is impossible to imagine that fans cannot find a person to lead this team on an interim basis. A person who understands business aspects, understands how to promote and market the team and has contacts in large corporations that he could use to negotiate potential sponsorships. And above all things THIS PERSON MUST BE 100% COMITTED TO TRANSPARENCY. If no such person can be found then we may as well maintain the status quo.
With an accountable office, member subscriptions, merchandize sales and other aspects will increase significantly. And in the Post Covid 19 scenario it will be critical for the club to restart initiatives like Gor Mahia bread and Gor Mahia water in order to sustain the club.
This person would lead the club only on an interim basis. His/Her primary task will be to put in place structures that can sustain the club. He would then pave the way for elections.
My vote would go to Carol Radull.
Having watched Carol Radull interview football officials, it is clear that she understands what it takes to market and promote a club. She clearly understands the importance of transparency and accountability. She understands how to bring in the right people and hold them accountable. Plus with her media exposure, she would be the kind of person this club needs to put stall the impending disaster. She will give fans and players hope.
In the likely case that Carol declines, Kogallo must still find a new dynamic leader with a proven record of leading an organization who can come in on an interim basis, stabilize the club, lay the foundation for a future modern club, modernize the club’s constitution and then pave the way for elections. Surely there must be such a person amongst Gor Mahia’s legion of fans. In 2008, fans found Rachier and asked him to run the club. Surely we can find a new dynamic leader in 2020.
Rachier should cement his legacy
When Rachier announced that he would resign in December of 2019, perhaps the most disappointing aspect of his announcement was that he said he would not assist the club by finding a suitable replacement.
Flashback to 2008. The chairman was Erastus Okul. As a club Chairman, he was grossly incompetent. He was only known for constantly fighting with the KPL and FKF leaders, sowing disorder and instigating the creation of parallel leagues. But he redeemed himself when he gracefully stepped aside to allow Ambrose Rachier to take over. He admitted that he was incapable of lifting the club from its morass and stepped aside for Rachier to take over.
Now Mr. Rachier appears to have run out of ideas. Like Okul he can redeem himself by helping spearhead the search for a qualified individual who can help restore this club. He has created a good legacy by steering the club to six titles (4 league and 2 cups). Rachier should be thanked for lifting the club out of his mediocrity. He can cement his legacy by leaving the club to new leadership that can take the club out of its current quagmire and take it to the next level.
This Saturday May 23-2020, TV personality Carol Radull interviewed Dan Shikanda and Ambrose Rachier who are the chairmen of AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia respectively. Shikanda came across as a man determined to lift AFC Leopards from its current morass. He is full of ideas and is burning with ambition. Shikanda, being a Scientist, also seems to approach each problem like the Medic that he is. He diagnoses the problem and offers a solution. Just like a medical Doctor diagnoses an sickness and prescribes a treatment, Shikanda had a clear view of the problems his club is facing and indicated that he is already working on remedies.
Rachier on the other hand appears to have completely run out of ideas. He offered no valid solutions. Instead he went back to the tried and failed tactic of blaming fans and trying to guilt fans into offering support to the club. This is a tactic he has applied for the past couple of years and it has not succeeded especially in the last few years. This does not bode well for the club’s immediate future.
Whereas Shikanda seems to approach each problem like scientist seeking problems, Rachier approaches each problem like the criminal defense lawyer he is, deflecting blame, daring people to produce evidence of corruption and finding creative ways to avoid postpone the issue at hand so he can buy time.
Shikanda announced that he has developed a 5 year strategic plan that includes building infrastructure for the club. His made it clear that his goal is to close the gap on Gor Mahia on performance and surpass them. Shikanda’s strategic plan involves marketing club products such as cooking oil and bread. He intends to give businesses an opportunity to use the club’s new state of the art bus to market their products.
Shikanda has created a media team that shows fans what happens at AFC every day of the week. This will include player interviews, videos of training sessions, interviews with former players etc. Companies will be invited to market their products during these shows.
In other words, Shikanda is already implementing his strategic plan even with limited finances.
Rachier for his part said that he developed a strategic plan but he cannot implement anything due to lack of funds. He has basically thrown his arms up and surrendered because the club has no funds.
One fan wrote in during the show and called Shikanda a dreamer, even delusional. What such fans don’t realize is that even if Shikanda accomplishes 50% of his strategic plan, it will still leave AFC in a better place than they currently are.
Radull noted that five years ago she wanted to buy Kogalo jerseys. She bought 5 jerseys then she later found out that the jerseys were being sold by a club official as a side hustle. Therefore all the money she spent went to the pockets of that official.
Rachier then said that merchandize sales have failed because fans are buying pirated jerseys made in China and there was nothing he could do about the piracy. Shikanda on the other hand pinpointed the solution which is that the clubs lack an official shop. As a result, when fans want to but jerseys, they often don’t know where to buy official merchandise. Which is one reason why fans end up buying pirated merchandize.
A further reason is pricing. Kogalo at one point had the audacity to sell jerseys at Ksh 5000 at a time pirated jerseys were going for Ksh 1000. This shows that the people running the club are either delusional or lack a basic understanding or merchandising and sales. If it is cheaper to make jerseys in China then why can’t the club also pursue that option? Why not just contract with a supplier who can provide the jerseys cheaper? No fan will buy a jersey at Ksh 5000. The club ought to know this.
Shikanda noted that when he took over the club, there were 700 members. He has increased the base of paying members to 2000 paying members. Shikanda is targeting to have 10,000 members by the end of this year and before his first term his target is 200,000. The effort is being led by Victor Milimu a club official. They are using the media team to create content to keep fans engaged. Shikanda noted that he plans to make the club self sufficient even without a sponsor.
Rachier for his part noted that Kogalo Only has 400 members paying regularly. He offered that he has pursued tactics like addressing fans on Ramgogi FM, Kogalo fan day, hot 96, Dala FM. However Rachier has no set goals or targets for membership.
Rachier noted that the club has a database of 156,000 members who have contributed via bill. But these fans are not regular contributors. Again Rachier did not state what he will do to increase membership. He once again shifted blame to fans. The same thing he has done for the past few years. The question becomes, if AFC can increase membership threefold within 8 months, why can’t Kogalo also increase membership? Clearly the club is doing something wrong but the chairman is too proud to admit it.
Rachier noted that the club has 121 branches. Every branch is supposed to send Ksh 10,000 to the club per year regardless of how much they have raised. The branches are only loosely affiliated with the club. They have their own constitution and can raise money using the club’s name without remitting the money to the club. In fact nowadays even famous fans can create club merchandize using the club’s name and make money that should otherwise be going to the club. The club has no control over its branches, some of which are now engaged in outright theft of funds. Even funeral funds. The branches are now ruining the club’s name. No fan should be using the club name to sell merchandize and no branch should be soliciting funds using the club’s name. Rachier being an attorney can implement cease and desist orders.
A fan commented that the club’s poor attendance and low membership numbers are due to corruption and misappropriation of gate collections and other fans. But Rachier dismissed those sentiments as wild allegations and even challenged the fan to produce evidence of corruption.
Interestingly, Rachier demanded evidence of corruption within the club yet Radull had just told him that a club official was selling club jerseys as a side hustle and that none of the money was going to the club. Rachier also never addressed the issue of how a player Derek Otanga sensationally claimed that a club official demanded a bribe from him before he could be signed. Otanga instead decided to join Wazito
Unfortunately Radull did not challenge Rachier enough on the issue of transparency which is the primary issue holding fans from paying their hard earned money to become members or even to pay for tickets.
Rachier has been in charge for 12 years. In those 12 years, membership has not increased but instead has actually reduced significantly. A few years back, the club had 1700 members. Apparently it now has only 400 paying members. Yet Rachier persists in blaming fans instead of looking inwardly. He has been told many times that the issue of transparency is the stumbling block. But like a good lawyer, each time transparency is brought up, he deflects, shifts blame, creates alibis and postpones the issue. What makes Rachier an excellent lawyer has been detrimental to club membership recruitment.
Shikanda highlighted the fact that since he took over Ingwe 8 months ago, the players have not gone on strike.
Radull challenged Rachier asking why the club has not introduced electronic ticketing. Rachier claims that he tried but it failed because fans would send the confirmation message to other fans. These fans would then show up at the stadium with the confirmation message and claim that they paid. Rachier claimed he gave up on eTicketing for this reason.
But Radull corrected Rachier by indicating that there are companies like TicketSasa that offer a system whereby tickets can be scanned on the phone and therefore the ticket cannot be replicated. Radull was basically alluding to the Outsourcing model that was described on this column a few weeks back.
This segment proved what many fans had suspected all along: Rachier was never serious about eTicketing. What he did was a half-hearted attempt. Then he quickly pretended that eTicketing cannot work. Either he is too set in his ways and does not want to change tact. Or he simply does not want to properly account for gate collections.
Rachier admitted that the club is in bad shape, the players are going hungry and are being thrown out of their homes for lack of rent. He blamed this pn lack of participation from fans. He noted that hosting a match sometimes costs Ksh 100,000 yet ticket proceeds are sometimes as low as Ksh 7000.
Shikanda for his part noted that his strategic plan will not depend solely on match attendance on gate collections. He plans to pursue other activities such as the sales of AFC bread, AFC water and AFC cooking oil to put money in club coffers.
Post Covid Plans
Shikanda and his team are already planning for the distinct possibility that when football comes back in August, there will be no fans and there will be no sponsorship. So he plans to sustain the club via products like Ingwe water, Ingwe Sanitizer, Ingwe mafuta and so forth.
Rachier claimed that he has put a team together to study post covid plans but he does not anticipate creating a solid plan because the issue of who will run the league has not been settled.
Rachier and Shikanda then went on an unnecessary rant against FKF because they have decided to appoint referees. They both claimed that FIFA funds should be sent to clubs but Radull promptly corrected them that the FIFA money is meant for football development and is not supposed to be given to fans.
So Rachier admitted that he has no plans for a Post Covid 19 league which will have no sponsor and no gate receipts. He will go back to the tried and failed tactic of trying to guilt fans into contributing to the club.
A fan sent a message indicating that a major failure of both clubs is the lack of a good marketing strategy and that both clubs needed to engage professional marketers. Rachier indicated that he has engaged marketers who are engaged on a consultancy basis. He however did not indicate what these consultants have accomplished or what their specific purpose was, nor whether they have performance objectives or goals.
Shikanda for his part indicated that he has hired two individuals: Ronald Namai and Joseph Murule to lead the marketing effort by the club. They have clear marching orders to expose the club’s brand and each have revenue targets.
Radull challenged Rachier to explain why he has been at helm for 12 years yet he has not improved the club’s financial stability. Rachier took credit for winning the league six times. He said he has failed to stabilize the club financially. He however said the failure was due to lack of sponsors. He blamed his inability to implement his strategic plan on the departure of sponsors.
However it is worth noting that even when the club had sponsors, Rachier never implemented his strategic plan. In 2016, when Sportpesa wwere announced as the new club sponsor, this blog published an article suggesting steps the club should take to stabilize the club financially and plan for a future where there might be no sponsor. Of course not a single idea from that article was ever implemented.
The Sports Fund
Rachier and Shikanda complained that the Sports fund which was created by the government to fund sporting activities. However that fund is likely going to be used for various national teams. It is unlikely that any of that money will ever go to clubs.
Rachier deserves credit for the six titles the club has won. It must be said however that the titles happened during a period when Kogalo had sponsorship and decent gate receipts. Even in 2015 when the club had no sponsor, they were able to count on good gate receipts and the large donations from politicians. Rachier deserves credit for the six titles the club has won. It must be said however that the titles happened during a period when Kogalo had sponsorship and decent gate receipts. Even in 2015 when the club had no sponsor, they were able to count on good gate receipts and the large donations from politicians.
In 2020 things have changed. There will be no sponsor. There will be no gate receipts, only empty stadia to start the new season. If Rachier does not change tact, the club is doomed. Unfortunately Rachier appears set in his ways and unwilling to change. He is still of the mindset that he should get money from sources like the sports fund, the FKF and from fans. And he believes that he should not have to be accountable or transparent. If this continues, the club is headed for a bleak performance in 2020-2021.
Matters don’t look promising. Whereas Shikanda offered plenty of hope to AFC fans, Rachier did not offer anything to look forward to for the fan base. We hope matters change. We hope somebody can intervene and cause Rachier to change direction. The only good news is that towards the end of the interview, Rachier admitted that there is a lot more that he can do. So maybe there is some hope yet.
Please note that the goal of this column is not to simply bash the chairman. This author recognizes that Rachier deserves most of the credit for all the titles the club has won. The purpose of this column is to sound the alarm. This club is headed in the wrong direction. The Chairman seems intent on pursuing tried and failed methods. If matters are not remediated, the immediate future will prove disastrous.
One issue that has become clear over the past year is that Gor Mahia must change its financing model. In the past 5 years, the club has taken heavy financial hits. Gate receipts have plummeted from the peak of 2012 when the cub averaged 10,000 fans for each home game . The KPL lost its broadcast TV contract and has not had a sponsor in a year. The departure of jersey sponsors Sportpesa in August of last year left Gor Mahia in dire financial straits which has only been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic that has brought football activities to a standstill, making it impossible for Gor Mahia to meet its financial obligations to its playing unit and technical bench.
The current status quo is not sustainable and matters could become even worse. Gor Mahia should take this time off to seriously rethink the club’s financing model. Over the years, various ideas have been mooted to give the club financial stability. Some have been discussed on this platform before. Its worth revisiting each one and discuss their merits and demerits. Among the models that have been discussed are:
1. The Outsourcing Model
2. The Augmentin Model
3. The Barcelona Model
4. The Manchester United Model
The Outsourcing Model
In this model, the club would outsource all its financial management to a reputable consulting firm like KPMG or Deloitte. This firm would be responsible for all the club’s revenue collection which includes sourcing for sponsors, soliciting and managing member subscriptions, merchandize sales, gate collections and other revenue generating initiatives. The firm would be responsible for publishing periodic financial statements for the sake of transparency. The firm would then be paid a portion of the revenue collected, such as 10%. Which means the more money they collect, the more they earn and the more the club earns. For the sake of transparency, this firm would also be responsible for paying players and the technical bench. Elected officials would be responsible for technical matters like hiring coaches and signing players.
In the past few years, the club has attempted a number of revenue generating activities each of which has failed miserably. A few months back, the club announced eTicketing. But after one attempt, the initiative failed. A firm like KPMG would be better placed to manage such an initiative via the creation of mobile applications, and other high-tech methods for ticket sales. eTicketing would enhance transparency unlike the current state
They would also be better placed to manage other failed initiatives like Jersey sales, Gor Mahia bread, Gor Mahia water, Gor Mahia SACCO and other moribund initiatives. With their business expertise, they would be able to generate new revenue streams for the club.
Below is an excerpt from the KPMG website regarding the mission of the company
KPMG Advisory professionals work with you to cut through the complexity of today’s rapidly changing marketplace. We leverage the knowledge and skills across our global network of firms to develop practical recommendations designed to help you work smarter, grow faster and compete stronger.
We are trusted advisors to the world’s organizations. They choose us because we are known for our talented people, technical expertise, deep industry insights and our ability to get the job done.
The primary benefit of this model is that consulting companies like Deloitte and KPMG have a reputation to uphold. Their entire business model relies on integrity. They will not risk being involved in corruption because it will ruin their business. Also their business model relies on delivering good results for their clients. On the other hand, most elected officials in all sports are primarily interested in engaging in corrupt deals and are typically not qualified to run a club of Gor Mahia’s stature. Other merits of the model are listed below.
1. The increase in transparency will encourage fans to contribute more, attend more matches and buy club merchandize.
2. The club will be run by professionals who understand who understand how to market and promote the club as well as concepts like sales generation, merchandizing, pricing and other business concepts. This is unlike the current state where the club is run by elected officials who try as they may, are simply not qualified to run a club of this stature.
1. It will likely be fought by some club officials who don’t want to lose control of the club’s finances and they will insist that the club constitution does not support such a model.
The Augmentin Model
This is a noble initiative that was started by fans who showed initiative to raise funds for the club in order to meet the club’s financial shortfall. It is run by diligent fans who keep track of every shilling raised and publish accounts on a daily basis. This is a level if transparency that the club has never achieved. The initiative resulted in Augmentin members paying match bonuses for players before the league was cancelled.
The model is run in a highly transparent manner which enhances fan participation
This model is not comprehensive in that does not address other revenue generation activities such as jersey sales, membership, sourcing for sponsorship and gate collections. It can only be used in conjunction with other models.
In this model, he club remains a public society run by members. At present Barcelona has 170,000 members. Gor Mahia claims to operate on the Barcelona model. But the club has approximately 300 paying members. The low numbers are due to lack of transparency in the club’s financial dealings. If the club were to enhance transparency say by publishing monthly accounts audited by a reputable accounting company, the club could increase its members significantly. For example 5000 members paying Ksh 100 per month would raise Ksh 5 million per month.
1. Fans have direct control of the club because they can elect officials. If fans are unhappy with officials they can vote them out.
2. Because the club is not profit driven, all the money the club makes can be re-invested back into the club to make the club stronger.
3. Because profits go to the club and not to owners, fans will be eager to support the club by buying merchandize.
4. Fans of a social club will be more emotionally invested in the team.
5. Club officials are more likely to listen to fans and not to shareholders or owners. Therefore fans have an indirect stake in how the team is run.
1. The club raises less revenue
2. Elected club officials are usually less qualified and not adept at tasks like marketing and promoting the club.
3. The club is less financially disciplined, is secretive and finances are not transparent
The Manchester United Model
This model involves selling shares on the stock market. Listing the club on the Nairobi stock exchange is an idea that has been mooted multiple times by Kogalo fans and officials going back to the late 1990s when the then Chairman Leslie Okudo proposed to list the club on the Nairobi stock exchange.
Advantages of the Manchester United Model
1. Listing can lead to increased financial discipline with gains accruing in the longer term.
2. With overall sound management of the club and Kenya football in general, the club ca raise much needed capital.
3. Publicly listed clubs have better management because the stock market requires it.
Disadvantages of the Manchester United Model
1. Stock markets favor companies that make profits. Football clubs exist to win trophies and not make a profit. The profit motive can prevent a club from investing in good players.
2. There is a danger that the club can be taken over by a rich person who is able to buy most of the shares. If a person buys over 51% of the club’s shares, he will have a controlling stake in the club which means he can do whatever he wants without being accountable to fans. He can start charging exorbitant prices for tickets. Or he could move the team to Mombasa or some other town and rename it.
3. All the profits of the club from merchandize, sponsorship and ticket sales could go into the pockets of shareholders and are not invested back into the club.
4. The stock of Gor Mahia FC will be negatively impacted by the fact that football in Kenya is poorly managed which means most investors have a negative opinion of football or sports in general.
Requirements for listing in the Nairobi stock exchange currently not met by Gor Mahia
This model is however a not feasible at present because Gor Mahia does not meet the basic requirements for listing on the Nairobi Stock exchange. In order to be listed on the stock exchange, a firm must meet the following requirements:
1. Fully paid up share capital of Kshs. 50 million.
2. Net assets immediately before the public offering of shares should not be less than Kshs. 100 million.
3. Have published audited financial statements
4. The issuer must have suitable senior management with relevant experience
5. have declared profits in at least three of the last five completed accounting periods
Since 2014, Gor Mahia have been trying to sell their authentic jerseys to no avail. Sales have been abysmal. A few months ago, Chairman Ambrose Rachier said on Citizen TV that the club is making no money from jersey sales. The reason he indicated is that cheaper knock offs are available from enterprising pirates.
In fact as far back as 2012 when Tuzo sponsored Kogalo, Tuzo themselves complained about abysmal jersey sales and cited it as one of the reasons for ending the sponsorship. At the time, Brookside were in charge of jersey sales and the club took only 10 percent of revenue from jersey sales. But even a big company like Brookside dairies could not compete with pirates.
Knock off jerseys are available for a fraction of the price of official replicas. Gor Mahia first tried to sell their official kit at Ksh 5000. When it was not selling, they knocked the price down to Ksh 3500. Still sales are abysmal.
Meanwhile knock-offs are available for Ksh 1000, and sometimes even less. When Gor Mahia went to play in Kericho earlier this year, pirates were selling “Kipkirui” labeled jerseys at the stadium. And they did roaring business because Nicholas Kipkirui is still very popular in Kericho.
The definition of insanity is to repeat the same thing over and over and expect different results. If you can’t beat the pirates then join them. The fact is that broke Kenyans will never buy a Gor Mahia jersey at Ksh 3500. Gor Mahia should just link up with a printing shop and make cheaper jerseys for sale at Ksh 1000.
In fact Gor Mahia also missed on opportunities to cash in on popular players like Francis Kahata whose jersey would have been a big seller in central province.
There are other opportunities. For example, Pirates are selling Gor Mahia scarves and even T-Shirts. And as far back as the early 1990s, there were pirates selling ballpoint pens with “Gor Mahia” printed on them. They were sold at the stadium at three times the cost of a regular ballpoint pen and many fans would buy.
Sell at the stadium and educate fans.
These jerseys should be sold at the stadium when Gor Mahia are playing. Further to that, fans should be educated on the importance of only buying from locations that are sanctioned by the club.
Account for the money
It has been said many times but it is worth repeating. If fans think the money is being miss-appropriated, they will not participate in any initiative that is meant to raise funds for the club. Indeed many fans who used to flood the stadium around 2011 and 2012 have stated that they stopped attending because they think officials are misappropriating gate proceeds.
This article is not a reaction to Sportpesa’s decision to terminate all sponsorship. Whether or not the club has a sponsor, they should stop selling merchandize at five times the price that pirates are selling. It is madness. This is especially true considering that one can buy EPL jerseys for only and jerseys of popular teams like Barcelona for Ksh 1000.
Former Gor Mahia coach Hassan Oktay has left an indelible mark on the club, despite being coach for only a year. He will be remembered as the first coach who steered a Kenyan team to the group stage of a continental event and beyond. In the process, Kogalo recorded famous victories over Egyptian giants Zamalek as well as Hussein Dey of Algeria, Union Douala of Cameroun and Petro Atletico of Angola.
Oktay also steered Kogalo to the league title. This came despite a torrid start that saw the club lose to KCB and fans calling for the firing of the coach in only his second match.
In the end Oktay had to leave for Turkey in order to be near his parents who are both ailing from cancer. On leaving, Oktay said he will always have a high regard for Gor Mahia.
“I have coached in Turkey and won the league title there, also coached in Saudi Arabia and now Kenya with Gor Mahia, I will always respect Gor Mahia of all the teams I have handled in my career,” Oktay told Goal.
“You want me to talk bad about Gor Mahia, I cannot. I just cannot, they are the best club I have ever handled in my entire career and will always keep track with what they are doing even if I don’t return from my leave.
“I have a lot of respect for the club chairman [Ambrose Rachier], he is one man who is dedicated to make sure the club is managed well and I like how he has always done his work.”
On behalf of Gor Mahia online supporters club aka Gor Mahia bloggers branch, we wish a speedy recovery to Oktay’s parents. And we wish Oktay success in all his future endeavors.
Gor Mahia’s recent CAF Confederations cup quarter-final matchup against RS Berkane was nothing but an unmitigated disaster, perhaps one of the worst in the club’s illustrious history. But it was not the first time that the club’s players, officials or external forces had conspired . In fact former player Innocent Mutiso was on television recently recalling the travel woes that the team experienced when they went to Gabon to face off with US Bitam.
2019: Berkane Shame
After qualifying for the quarter-final to much fanfare, Gor Mahia players went on strike three days before the first leg against Berkane. According to Chairman Rachier, they had just been paid their March salaries a day earlier. One would think that the players would seek this opportunity to showcase their abilities for potential suitors including this very Moroccan side. By going on strike, they denied coach Hassan Oktay the opportunity to put his finishing touches on match preparations. Plus their state of mind was clearly not focused on the game. The predictable result was that they lost 2-0. North African teams are not to be trifled with and maximum preparation and focus is needed.
The second leg was a complete disaster. Gor Mahia was notified by CAF of the match schedule a good 24 days before the team was to travel to Berkane. That was ample time to plan the trip. But it appears that both Gor Mahia and the Ministry of sports left travel planning and ticket allocation to the very last moment. The net result was a shambolic traveling program. Players arrived mere hours before the match, some after having spent nights sleeping on airport floors.
Gor Mahia lost the second leg 5-1 largely due to mental and physical fatigue. Again North African teams are very adept at changing their tactics to exploit weakness whether it is fatigue or lack of focus.
2018: So near yet so far
In 2018, Gor Mahia qualified for the CAF Confederations cup after unexpectedly eliminating much fancied Supersport of South Africa, a team whose budget is several times larger than Gor Mahia. Then in the group stage, Gor Mahia was placed with what seemed like an easy group with Young Africans of Tanzania, Rayon Sport of Rwanda and USM Alger of Algeria. It seemed like a glorious opportunity for Gor Mahia to advance past the group stage.
Indeed Gor Mahia started well, forcing an away draw to Rayon sports. In the second match, they completely outplayed USM Alger but settled for a scoreless draw. They then beating Yanga 4-0 and 3-2. It seemed like Kogalo were coasting to the next stage. Then things begun to come loose at the seams. The Kenya Premier League saw it fit to give Gor Mahia a heavy August schedule in which they played 10 matches in 29 days. Stalwart Meddie Kagere suddenly packed his bags and left for Simba of Dar es Salaam, while long serving defender Godfrey Walusimbi also dissappeared, only to surface at Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa.
Gor Mahia ended up in a shock home loss to Rayon Sport before losing to USM Alger thus ending their aspirations of going to the next stage.
Coach Dylan Kerr described difficult conditions that he had to put up with during the 2018 campaign that included constant player strikes due to non payment of dues, traveling to Machakos to play Esperance the day before the match and being stuck in traffic for 8 hours. The trip to USM Alger which took a colossal 38 hours including a 28 hour stint in a Moroccan airport in which the players once again slept on the airport floor. The coach pleaded with club officials to sort these issues out.
In 2015, a very strong Gor Mahia squad won the league unbeaten and appeared poised for a glorious continental campaign. In the process they scored an incredible 60 goals and finished 20 points ahead of second placed Ulinzi Stars. Kogalo appeared poised for continental glory. But it was not to be. The attacking trio of Ali Abondo, Michael Olunga and Meddie Kagere who had scored 43 of Gor Mahia’s 60 goals in the league campaign all departed. Thus as Gor Mahia faced CNAPs whom they had beaten a year earlier, Gor Mahia coach Frank Nuttall had to deploy a makeshift line-up.
What is worse, Nuttall was unhappy with Chairman Rachier who was demanding that Nuttall take a significant paycut. Nuttall was fired only a week before the match against CNAPs, only to be re-instated due to fan pressure a day before the match. But the lack of physical and psychological preparation was evident as Gor Mahia lost 1-2 at home to CNAPs before losing the second leg 0-1. Nuttall soon left in a huff only to surface on the bench of Zamalek as an assistant coach.
2015: Kogalo peppered by AC Leopards
In the 2015 Africa Champions League, Gor Mahia managed to eke out a narrow win over CNAPs of Madagascar in the preliminary round. Next they faced AC Leopards of Congo-Brazza.
Unfortunately for Kogalo, they had to make do without three key players: Meddie Kagere, Karim Nizigiyimana and Abouba Sibomana. This because the players were not registered with CAF. In fact Chairman Rachier admitted that only 19 players were eligible to play against AC Leopards. Gor Mahia put on a fight but without key players and with only 19 players to chose from, they lost both legs 1-0.
2012: Ferroviario woes
Gor Mahia qualified for the 2012 CAF Confederations cup by virtue of having won the domestic cup in 2011. The Camerounian Anaba Awono was appointed head coach after a stint as assistant coach. They then went on a signing spree to boost the club for continental action. In came Ali Bondo, George Midenyo ,David Owino, Ivo Mapunda, Rama Salim ,Baldin Ngwa, Wyclifee Kasaya, Tony Nyangor, Ibrahim Kitawi, Yusuf Juma, Hugo Nzangu,Peter Juma, Donald Musoti and Felix Nwosu.
Gor Mahia now had a massive squad of over 30 players, presenting coach Awono with a selection headache that was worsened by certain players. Equally bloated was the technical bench.
Gor Mahia played Ferroviario of Mozambique in the opening round. On paper it should not have been a difficult match. But the Mozambicans ran rings and concentric circles around Gor Mahia winning 3-0 in Maputo. Collins Okoth was red carded in the second half to add to Gor Mahia’s woes. It would have been worse had Jerim Onyango not saved a penalty.
Upon returning, reports emerged about infighting within the Kogalo bench. Coach Awono was not in control. There was constant bickering between him and team manager Jolawi Obondo. There was also cartel like behavior from EC members, some of whom demanded playing time for certain players. In the end, chairman Ambrose Rachier sent the entire technical bench packing including Awono, Jolawi, Zablon Otieno and Julius Owino. It was not enough however as Gor Mahia with club legend Bobby Ogolla now in charge, lost the return leg 1-0 .
2009: APR hammering
In 2008, an unfancied Gor Mahia side full of unknown players ended up winning the KFF cup, beating Posta Rangers in the final. It was an unexpected win as Gor Mahia had finished 9th in the league standings and were unimpressive. The win earned them the right to play in the CAF confederations cup. James Sianga was in rebuilding mode and stacked his team with youthful players.
Experts commented that the team was too young and inexperienced and would be unable to withstand the rigours of continental football. They were right. Gor Mahia lost the opening leg 5-0 to a highly experienced APR side that had players from Congo, Tanzania and even Kenya (Moses Odhiambo). The youthful Kogalo side suffered stage fright. The only experienced Gor mahia players were Zablon Otieno and Julius Owino
The trouble with building a completely youthful side is that young players tend to be inconsistent, error prone and crumble under pressure. However Sianga said that he had no choice because the club did not have the financial wherewithal to
Gor Mahia Line-up: Jerry Onyango, Julius Awilo, Stephen Otieno, Isaac Omollo, Francis Akango, Tony Onyango, Habil Otieno, Elisha Ochieno, Christopher Wekesa, George Odhiambo, Zablon Otieno.
1983: Vital O Fiasco
By the beginning of 1983, Gor Mahia was still in turmoil after a disastrous 1982 season that saw numerous players suspended from the club. Gor Mahia were in rebuilding mode with several youthful players. They had qualified for the 1983 Cup winners cup by virtue of finishing second in the 1982 league campaign.
They started their continental campaign in excellent fashion, beating Vital O of Burundi 2-1 away in Bujumbura. The scorers were Bobby Ogolla who scored from a direct free-kick and Abdalla Shebe. But thats when disaster struck. The players who had been suspended in the previous season and were still under suspension, infiltrated the Gor Mahia camp and convinced other Gor Mahia players to revolt supposedly because they were being mistreated by the club brass.
Gor Mahia ended up losing the second leg 3-0 at City stadium, putting on one of the poorest performances ever seen by the club. In the aftermath, Andrew Obunga, Mike Ogolla “Machine”, Charles Ondiek and George Ayuka were expelled from the club by Chairman Zack Mbori.
1982: Dynamo de Fima Disaster
In 1982 what looed like a strong and experienced Kogalo side was pitted against Dynamo de Fima of Madagascar. But yet again a player revolt ended Gor Mahia’s continental campaign. The players had been promised that they would camp at Grosvenor Hotel. But upon arriving from a build up tour of Ethiopia, the bus took them to Lenana high school. The players revolted at what they considered substandard accommodation. They refused to train and refused to travel to Madagascar for the return leg. In the end Gor Mahia was disqualified and fined heavily for not honoring the return fixture.
Gor Mahia Chairman Ambrose Rachier and Deputy Secretary General Ronald Ngala, who is the longest serving official at the club, gave an extensive interview to Rashid Abdallah of Citizen TV.
First off kudos to the duo. They addressed a number of issues including restructuring the club, jersey sales, infighting and so forth.
At around 25:22, the presenter tell Rachier and Ngala that many fans have refused to become paying members because they worry that the money will be used to line the pockets of officials.
Rachier answered by stating that many Gor Mahia fans have a mentality and culture that they want results but are not willing to pay for match tickets or become paying members. He then added that the club’s leadership is not at fault for this.
At 41:22, Rashid again presses the duo stating that fans have been appealing for tranparency for decades and yet this transparency has never materialized
Ronald Ngala dismisses the question by using the old argument that people who are not club members have no business demanding transparency.
He then says that transparency in ticket sales is not needed because fans can estimate gate collections by looking at how large the crowd is.
What is wrong with this scenario
Fans polled on social media and elsewhere have openly stated that they no longer attend matches because they think the money is lining the pockets of officials. The falling attendance is largely due to such concerns.
The same fans have also stated that they will not become paying members due to lack of transparency. Yet Mr. Rachier claims that its the culture of the fans that hinders fans from registering as members. Has he actually asked fans why they don’t become members?
To put it simply if club officials do not put in place mechanisms to assuage fans concerns about the opacity of club finances, attendance will continue to be low and membership will continue to lag. As things stand now, the club has only 274 paying members.
Fans have been asking for transparency for decades. Yours truly spoke to club officials about this in the late 1990s when the club started to spiral downwards. The then officials promised to implement transparency procedures. Nothing came of it.
Twenty years later the club officials still think the fans have no
business questioning the use of the club’s finances. Incredible.
Many ideas have been floated including having an independent accounting
company audit and publish the club accounts on a regular basis.
Case in Point
When Gor Mahia played Hull City in May 2018, Kasarani stadium was filled to the brim. Which means as many as 60,000 fans attended. Yet the club treasurer announced that only 30,000 tickets were sold.
“In total, we sold 30, 000 tickets, and that includes both VIP and terrace tickets. I believe we could have sold more, but there were several complimentary tickets as well as several courtesy card holders who were allowed free access into the stadium. ” said Sally Bolo
It beggars belief that 30,000 fans paid and another 30,000 entered as courtesy card holders. Many fans cried foul. These issues can be addressed via more transparency (electronic ticketing).
Back in the early 1990s, President Daniel arap Moi gave both Gor Mahia and AFC leopards adjacent peices of land at Kasarani in which to build a club-house and a training ground. Both clubs dilly dallied and the land was quickly grabbed and sold off by a well connected bigwig. Both clubs then pleaded with Moi to give them alternate pieces of land. Moi obliged and gave both clubs land, this time at Embakassi. Twenty five years on, the club has done nothing with the land. For years not much was known about the status of the land. The last reliable report about the land was back in 2008 when club officials said they could not develop the land because it was occupied by squatters. The club officials have maintained a studious silence about the status of the land. This has left fans wondering what exactly is the status of the land. Was it grabbed again? Was it sold off by unscrupulous officials?
The picture is beginning to be a little clearer thanks to research by fans who have uncovered useful information. Most notably a fan, Okil Kamaloka was able to dig up the title deed which still indicates that the piece of land belongs to the club.
Images provided by Okil Kamaloka
A previous report by Odindo Ayieko back in 2009 indicated that the land title deed number was LR9042/560
Former Club Chairman Erastus Okul spoke of the difficulty of claiming the land at the time.
“We even managed to get a title deed but now it seems it will be even more difficult to get hold of it now that squatters have put up houses there. The squatters claim they bought the land, yet they have no documents to support their argument. But they say they are not moving from there either.” said former Gor Mahia chairman, Erastus Okul.
Gor Mahia spends tens of thousands of shillings to train at Camp Toyoyo everyday and tens of thousands more to rent office space. All this is money that the club can save if they develop their land and build a training ground and a clubhouse.
By Monday April 16, only two days before Kogalo were to play against Supersport United Gor Mahia still had not obtained tickets nor visas. It took the geneosity of Nairobi governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko to save the day when he donated 30 tickets. This after Sports minister Mike Achesa had refused to facilitate tickets. Then the intervention of Ababu Namwamba (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) enabled K’Ogalo to obtain Visas. Still it was too late to save the day for Ephrem Guikan and Tuyisenge who both missed the trip because their work permits did not meet the criteria required by the South African consulate.
Gor Mahia officials have known for over a month that they would require South Africa visas. And fans have been posting online and in social media that previous Kenyan teams have had difficulty getting such visas. In fact the Kenya women’s youth team once camped at the South Africa embassy after the South African embassy started to make things difficult for their travel.
Yet despite all the advance notice, no one in the Executive Committee saw it fit to start working on obtaining Visas and tickets. Had it not been for Namwamba, who likes sports and a Nairobi governor (Sonko) who is wealthy enough to donate tickets, Gor Mahia would have been disqualified from the 2018 Confederations cup and possible barred from competing in 2019.
So Kogalo fans must thank Sonko for his generosity and Namwamba for coming to the rescue of the club. But Kogalo fans must demand better from the Chairman. How is it possible that he has been in power since 2008 a but has never seen it fit to change the constitution so the club is run by competent people? And how is it that Ludovick Aduda keeps getting appointed as CEO yet he has not proven competent? One wonders what qualifies him to be the club CEO and what if any accomplishments he has achieved.
For years the club fans have asked for a competent person to be appointed as General Manager. This person should be in charge of the day to day affairs of the club including ticketing, visas, air-tickets, matchday tickets, accounting and so forth. Eventually the club can expand and start appointing another person to perform tasks like marketing the club, pursuing sponsorships and so forth. This person should be on a performance contract. The more money he brings into the club, the more money he should be paid. Let an established firm like KPMG perform the recruiting and hiring of these individuals.
Gor Mahia has lost several international matches due to self inflicted errors. This is because our system of elections does not yield the best candidates. Its time to create a progressive constitution where competent people are hired to run the club. An independent body like KPMG should interview and hire these people. Left to Rachier, he will likely appoint Ludovick Aduda again.
Kogalo was lucky this time that Sonko and Namwamba came to the rescue. If they continue like this then we might see worse during the group stage. Fans must now make their voices heard. We need competent people running the club.