Its time to find a successor to Ambrose Rachier

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.

Commentary by Vincent “Video Editor” Ogutu
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Rachier discusses future plans, the highs and lows of the Chairmanship

Ambrose Rachier gave an at length interview to the Daily Nation discussing

Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier is a man loved and hated in equal measure.

Whenever his name is mentioned, there arises two varied views among K’Ogalo followers.

On one side, he is a person who has brought a lot of success to the club, given it a new lease of life and ensured the stability for more than a decade now.

On the other side, he is a veteran administrator who has refused to leave office since he was first elected in 2008.

In fact, a section of fans, unhappy with his long stay at the helm of one of East Africa’s biggest clubs, have nicknamed him “Mugabe” comparing him to former Zimbabwe president, the late Robert Mugabe, who ruled his country with an iron fist hand for 40 years.

So one cold Wednesday afternoon we paid the Gor Mahia boss a visit and delved into his tenure with the Kenyan glamour club.

Dressed in a grey sharp suit, he looked jovial as he welcomed us to his office in Hurlingham, in the outskirts of Nairobi’s busy Central Business District.

He breathes with confidence and jokes on how he has kept us waiting for over half an hour before we start the interview start.

Surprisingly, the office looks like a sports apparel shop, laden with trophies and medals displayed on the table and shelves rather than law books and case files.

These are trophies Gor Mahia have won before and under his tenure. He says they are in his private office for safety reasons.

TOUGH QUESTIONS

He looks younger than his 71 years, born in 1949, in a bus near Molo when his mother was travelling from Siaya to Nairobi.

Well at ease he challenges this scribe to ask tough question as he has never been subjected to that by Kenyan journalists.

Rachier is a second born in a family of 12 and is married with seven children. His first born son and daughter have followed in his footsteps and are currently practising law.

He has practised law since 1974 and is in no hurry to retire.

Rachier did his A Levels at Alliance High School in 1969-1970 and then proceeded to study French at the University of Madagascar at diploma and master level.

In September 1971 he joined Dar es Salaam where he studied law graduating in 1975.

In 1975 he established a law firm with veteran lawyer George Oraro before establishing his won firm, Rachier and Amollo advocates.

He has taught law for the past 27 years and currently teaches Health Law and Policy to Master’s students at Strathmore University.

Does he have any sports background?

Rachier played as a full back for Alliance School and University of Madagascar football teams.

He was eager to continue with his football at Dar es Salaam and Nairobi but said he could not find a football team then.

ELECTION

Rachier revealed that he became Gor Mahia chairman unexpectedly in 2008 despite not having any interest in challenging the then chairman Erastus Okul.

“I never actually offered myself for any elective post in Gor Mahia. On May 8, 2008 while doing my work at my office at Reinsurance Plaza at around 10am, I heard some noise and a group of unruly youth overpowered the security at the gates and entered my office,” he says.

The youth forcefully removed him from his office drove him in his pickup to City Stadium where they raised his hands and in acclamation made him the chairman.

“I recognise two of them, namely Jamadar and David Dede. I said ‘no’ because I knew the chairman was Okul and we agreed to postpone the elections to the following Sunday. We met with Okul before the day and he passed the mantle to me before formalising it at City Stadium as the fans celebrated the change of guard,” he added.

He confesses that he had not campaigned or showed interest in any position at the club but concedes he regularly watched the team’s home and away matches.

Rachier says he is not leaving anytime soon as some of his opponents have been proposing because the club is worse and he can’t leave it in the hands of individuals he says will worsen the situation.

This contradicts his earlier announcement last year promising to leave by December of that year.

The veteran lawyer says he wants to leave the club better than he found it and will not hold shoddy elections just to acquiesce to those demanding for the exercise to be undertaken.

“I will hold elections when the club is stable financially and leave it in safe hands. The registrar has talked to me and she pointed out that the elections are long overdue,” he says.

Indeed Gor Mahia elections are overdue. The club held its last election in December 11, 2016. A term of office lasts two years.

“Rachier was supposed to have called the elections in 2018 but promised to do so by 2019 December after getting a consent from the registrar.
The registrar of sports has been on our neck but now it is not known when the elections will be held because of the current financial situation at the club,” said Gor Mahia CEO Lordvick Aduda.

In the last elections, Rachier garnered 579 votes to floor his challengers Chrispine Omondi and Dan Oketch who got 157 and 220 votes respectively.

Gor Mahia are currently experiencing many challenges which Rachier believes need to be addressed first rather than holding elections which is not a priority now according to him.

Rachier says he also wants to see Gor Mahia build a modern stadium in one of the parcels of land given to the club by late President Daniel Arap Moi.

Even though the land at Embakasi has since been encroached by individuals, he assures K’Ogalo fans that the club’s piece of land at Kasarani is safe and his dream of building a stadium must come to pass before he leaves.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

Rachier also cited his achievements, disappointments and the future of the record 18 times Kenyan champions.

His best achievements are winning multiple Kenyan Premier League titles, helping Gor Mahia reclaim its lost glory and ending hooliganism which was at it apex when he took over.

The 46 trophies Gor have won in different campaigns during his tenure underlines the club’s success this past decade.

Even with the regular titles Rachier still bristles with anger when he remembers how Gor Mahia lost the title to Tusker in 2016.

He blames board room decisions and politics which he says were engineered by the then Football Kenya Federation CEO Robert Muthomi and President Nick Mwendwa.

“What the federation did was painful because they denied us points by focusing on a match against Tusker that had taken place way back in the first leg. Otherwise the trophy was ours,” he says.

The most painful season was in 2012 he says when Tusker snatched the league title at the 11th hour breaking K’Ogalo fans’ hearts as they were about to throw one big, wild party in celebration of their first triumph in 17 years.

“That day we were dressed up, had printed T-shirts and were excited because we were sure of being champions. As the match was about to end, Thika United scored an equaliser in the last minute and that is how our celebration was cut off by eventual winners Tusker. I cried and to me it was the lowest moment as Gor Mahia chairman,” he says.

He singles out Rwandese striker Jacques Tuyisenge and Teddy Akumu as the best foreign and local based players signed under his tenure.

In administration, he says the saddest moment is the numerous go slows over unpaid salaries.

He remembers a sad instance where a player whose wife had given birth to twins was almost being thrown out of his house because of unpaid rent arrears.

“It hit me hard because of the welfare of the twins, it was such a shame. This was sad and I even thought of quitting the club,” he says.

The club continues to suffer financially following the exit of the gaming firm SportPesa last year as their shirt sponsors.

But there is a glimmer of hope. Rachier says Gor Mahia’s sponsorship deal with sportswear company Umbro will officially start after the end of this season. He also makes assurances that Gor will have a major sponsor before the start of the 2020-2021 season.

Umbro will officially launch their sports kits according to the partnership with K’Ogalo next month but the struggles and sufferings in payment of salaries will have to be endured till the end of the season.

What of Football Kenya Federation’s looming takeover of the KPL? Rachier say KPL doesn’t oppose the coming change as long as FKF can run the league smoothly.

“FKF should learn from leading football nations. The federation doesn’t run the league. Bundesliga, English Premier League and Ligue 1 are run by the league body. Even in famous leagues in Africa like South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt the issue is the same,” he added.

Rachier has stood for the FKF presidency twice before and lost.

He says he has decided not to challenge Mwendwa this year because he is no longer interested in the post due to controversies concerning legalities and compliance to the Sports Act.

His worst regret in life is trying his hands in politics in 2007. He vied for the ODM ticket for the Gem parliamentary seat but the party’s intricacies saw him denied the ticket.

He eventually ran on a Narc ticket but lost to an ODM opponent. He has sworn never to try his hands in politics because of what he went through that year.

For now, he continues with his law practice while working to transform Go Mahia into a modern, rich and successful football club.

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Rachier set to exit as Chairman

Ambrose Rachier, who has had the longest ever tenure as Gor Mahia chairman (11 years) and who has won more league titles than any other Chairman (6) is set to leave the club.

Additional reporting from Citizen Sport

Long serving Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier,69,  has shocked the football world announcing his intent to step down from his role at the end of the year.

In a heart-to -heart interview with Citizen Digital, Rachier said that he will not offer himself for re-election in December – during which the constitutional changes he has instituted at the club are expected to culminate in fresh polls.

“My position is that we’re going through the constitution making process which should be concluded in June. I estimate that we will need another six months to put everything in place and by December, in my estimation, we should have elections.

He added: “What I’m saying is that I won’t offer myself for re-election at the end of the year in the next election.

“We will be looking for some window period…to hold elections so that it doesn’t interfere with the team,” he said.

Queried as to why he’s suddenly leaving a club which he has led with distinction for 11 years, Rachier said: “The new Sports Act requires us (federation officials and club presidents) to do two terms of four years.

He went on: “Overstaying is usual; it is a disease especially at levels of governance in Africa. It’s a noble thing to leave it (leadership) to younger generation. There are others who think I’ve overstayed and now refer to be Mugabe,” he joked.

In the recent past Rachier under whose tenure Gor rose from the woods after a 15-year period of lull and began to challenge for titles had indicated that he won’t “desert the club” but leave it in the care of capable hands.

Asked as to whether he still sticks to this school of thought, he opined:  “I actually won’t say that I’ve picked somebody (to take over the leadership)but I do not want to leave chaos… I won’t campaign for somebody but I’ll look for means not to leave it in chaos… but eventually it will be members decision.”

Vilified and adored in equal measure,  Rachier stint saw the club end their 18-year wait for a Kenyan Premier league title claiming the coveted gong in 2013 and have since gone on to monopolise the competition, winning it six times under his watch besides bagging two KPL Top Eight titles, a further four KPL Super Cups and two domestic cups.

Since then K’Ogalo have made appearances at the continental football every year bar in 2017, reaching the quarter fianls of the Caf Confederations Cup this term.

However critics point to his failure to lead the club in building its own stadium, training facility an a club house.

Either way, whichever one looks at it, his exit is set to be a hit below the belt for the glamour club with the much sought after financial freedom still a mirage.

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Remembering Zack Mbori a legendary Chairman

Zack Mbori pictured here with Kenneth Matiba during a fundraiser for the club in the mid 1970s. In the front row are club chairman Peter Anyumba, and Cabinet Minister Njenga Karume who was the guest of honour

Mbori receiving football boots donated by Re-Union Chairman Wycliff Rading Omollo before the 1985 CECAFA cup

Personal Life

Remembering Zack Mbori in Pictures

Mbori holding the 1985 CECAFA cup after Kogalo beat Ingwe 2-0 in the final.

 

Mbori addressing the media with the then AFC Chairman Alfred Sambu

 

 

Mbori and his supporters during the 1984 club elections. In those days elections were held mlolongo style.

 

Contestant Luke Misiga who had been a member of the club’s governing council, congratulates Mbori after the election. Misiga would later claim the election was rigged to favor Mbori.

 

Mbori with players William Obwaka and Ben Oloo “Breakdance” in 1985

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Rachier dimisses critics, says there is no corruption


Chairman Ambrose Rachier has dismissed critics who of late have been accusing him of mishandling and even embezzling club funds. Rachier is adamant that for the past two years, there has been no money to embezzle.

“Corruption comes in when there is money to be stolen. Where was the money in Gor Mahia? Gor had no sponsor, I’m the one who knows where the money to run this club came from. All these noise you hearing now is from the fact that we have two sponsors now. The noise makers are targeting to control the new found money,” he said to Citizen FM.

A section of Fans have been clamouring for elections. Some have even started campaigning. One fellow told a local radio station that if he were to become chairman, the mashemeji derby would raise Ksh 50 million per game. But Rachier insists that there will be no elections anytime soon. He however will call a meeting to discuss the current status of the club.

“I will soon call for a SGM to explain to members the new developments, especially as far as the sports act of 2013 is concerned. Then from the SGM if they want elections I will call for elections. But not when the season is on.”  he continued.

Fans will be keen to see Rachier account for among other things:
1. Gate collections
2. How is the sponsor money spent?
3. How is the kit sponsorship money spent
4. What are the proceeds from the Gor Mahia SACCO and how are they spent?
5. Other revenue streams such as Gor Mahia water which retails for Ksh 50 and the Gor Mahia bread

Note that Gor Mahia water was available for sale at the stadium on Saturday and a club official said the club was happey with the revenue.

“It is a new revenue stream for us and we are urging our fans to support us by buying the water.” said the official.

Rachier went on to say that he will fulfill the pledge he made in 2008 to build a stadium for the club.
“We have land in Embakasi, but if the squatters are still there, then we will activate plan B. There is land at Kasarani that the new FKF president says we can build a stadium. I’m talking to partners to make this a reality.”

Meddie Kagere on the way back?

Rwandese striker Meddie Kagere, who left the club in December is back in town and may start training with the team again with a view to rejoining the club in June.

“He is our former player and because he is free, he has been talking to some of us but we will see what happens when June comes,” said Ronald Ngala told Goal.com

It is impossible to tell what will happen in June and by then he may have already found another club. Ngala also noted that Gor Mahia has already reached its quota for foreign players.

“I do not blame him for his earlier actions, it was evident there was someone, who misled him. He is a quality player and we would like him to play for us, however, we currently do not have a place for him since we have exhausted the number of foreign players in the team.” he said.

Chairman Ambrose Rachier explained that Kagere left because his demands were too exhorbitant for the club at the time.

“Meddie left because we could not afford him in December. We had no sponsor and he was asking for six million shillings which we didn’t have. We have now had a discussion and he will be back,” Rachier to Citizen FM.

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Rachier now says Gor Mahia searching for new coach

Gor Mahia Chairman Ambrose Rachier has announced that coach Bobby Williamson has resigned as of the end of August and that Gor Mahia is in search of a new coach.

“Now that Williamson will leave the club after regional Cecafa Kagame Cup championships in Rwanda, we have no choice but to start looking for his replacement.” said Rachier to goal.com

This is a stark contrast to what we heard from other club officials. In fact it appears the club officials are contradicting each other. Bobby Williamson himself said he was still committed to Gor Mahia and that FKF would have to request permission from the club to handle national team duties. Secreyary general Chris Omondi said “What I can confirm is that talks have been on-going but nothing has been agreed yet.”

Rachier indicated that financial constraints will hinder them from signing a top tier coach. ““We have received a lot of interest from several coaches but we are afraid we may not get a top coach due to financial demands they may put on us,” Rachier told goal.com on Thursday.

There are reports that the club may entice former coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno to come back. Former AFC Leopards’ coach Luc Eymael has also expressed interest in the job.

As much as some fans are unhappy with Williamson for various reasons such as not winning the mashemeji derby, he deserves credit for steering Gor Mahia to the top of the table even despite all the financial constraints and player departures that have plagued the club. Williamson deserves credit and it is incredible that the club would let him go right in the middle of the league campaign. With Harambee stars having been eliminated from AFCON 2015, there are hardly any other tournaments to keep Williamson busy. The only logical reason Gor Mahia would let Williamson go at such a crucial moment is the precarious financial situation now bedeviling the club.

However Jerim Onyango has averred that the departure of Williamson will not affect the club. “I don’t think his going should affect our title challenge. We will maintain a positive attitude and keep doing what he taught us to do.” said Jerim to goal.com

He however admitted that the playing unit will miss Williamson.

“Since he joined the squad, he has been like a father figure to all of us and we will miss this.”

He added: “I strongly believe that Williamson will succeed with Harambee Stars just like he did at Gor Mahia. This is why Football Kenya Federation settled on him.” continued Jerim.

 

 

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Which off the field reforms would fans like to see in 2012

The transfer season of 2012 has been one of the most interesting in recent memory. Gor Mahia has been a beehive of activity culminating in the arrival  and departure of players and futile pursuance of other players .

Club chairman Ambrose Rachier recently announced that 2012 will be a year of reforms aimed at professionalizing the club. Such reforms are aimed at making this club a continental giant like it once was. So the question becomes: What off the field reforms would fans most like to see ?

One area where the club seems to be lagging behind is in the area of merchandizing. To begin with the only item that seems to be readily available for sale is the club matchday jersey. However sales of the club jersey appear to have plummeted because of fans perception that the club is getting a raw deal. The club gets only 10% of the revenue for each jersey sold. The rest goes to Legea. Its a weird scenario where Legea, an Italian sports equipment manufacturer benefits from both having its name and symbol advertized on the club jersey but also takes off with 90% of the revenue. It should be obvious to all that if this deal were to be restructured, jersey sales would skyrocket, benefiting both Gor Mahia , Legea and also Tuzo , all of whom will gain a lot more mileage as more people wear this jersey around town. Restructuring this deal should be a no-brainer.

Further to that , the club should seriously pursue merchandizing other items. Fans will be buy anything associated with the club. How about a calendar with pictures of past legends and present players. Scarves, jackets that are customized with the supporters name or nickname, umbrellas, soccer balls signed by players DVDs. Sometime in the early nineties, the club started to sell bic ball point pens emblazoned with the text “I support Gor Mahia FC”. They were supposed to sell for 10sh each but some cheeky vendors at Nyayo stadium were selling them for Ksh 20 and pocketing the extra 10 bob. This is the kind of fraud that the club should pay attention to.

Another area that is worth reform is the area of accountability. There have been suspicions amongst many fans that sometimes the announced gate collections do not reflect the attendance. The club should do something to assuage this concern.

Secondly, the club should step up its membership recruitment. The best way to kick start this is to get the club’s accounts audited by a reputable accounting firm. When the club is accountable, open and transparent, people will be assured that the money they contribute to the club is not being misappropriated or embezzled and there will be more people who are willing to become paying subscribers.  The club can set up a system of membership with silver, gold and platinum membership. Platinum members can be those who pay membership dues of above Ksh 10,000 per year. Gold members pay ksh 5000 and silver members pay ksh 1000 per year and so forth. There are also hundreds of Kogalo fans in the diaspora living in North America, Europe, Australia etc. The club should enhance transparency to entice these fans to contribute to the club and also provide a mechanism for them to send their contributions. The vehicle below belongs to a die hard Kogalo fan currently residing in the frozen north. So die-hard is he that his number plate aka license number reflects the club’s name. And this picture was taken in 2002 when the club was in the doldrums battling relegation. These fans can be convinced to support the club materially and financially.

The number plate of a die-hard Kogalo supporter in the frozen North reflects his fanaticism for the club.

A further area worth reforming is the issue of player loans. There are many young Kogalo players whose development is being stunted by warming the bench. Players like Duncan Owiti Macheda, Roy Okal and could benefit by playing every weekend. If you practice every day but do not get a chance to put your training to use on match day, you will never develop. These guys are talented but we will never know how good they are if they only warm the bench. And in the current dispensation with fans demanding immediate results, there will be no opportunity to field them. So send them on loan to another team in the KPL or in the next level so they can build their confidence and sharpen their skills.

The issue of youth development has been covered in depth in a previous article. Its worth adding that Barcelona’s youth team currently plays in Spain’s second tier tus giving the youngstars much needed game time. . Instead of fielding a U-19 only during the KPL U-19 tournament, Kogalo’s youth team should be playing in the lower divisions every weekend. This will give them match experience and build cohesiveness such that by the time they are seniors, they will have been playing together for years and the coordination between them will be superb. Its no co-incidence that the Thika United U-19 team won the inaugural KPL cup. It was not a hurriedly assembled team like most others. It was a cohesive unit that has been playing together. Back in 1983, the Kogalo youth team drew significant crowds whenever the played. Fans wanted to see what they thought was the next generation. The same can happen today.

Thats yours trulys take on which reforms are neeeded. Now over to other bloggers. What would you like to see done in 2012 ?

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