Sec Gen Ocholla warns sellers of counterfeit merchandize

Gor Mahia Secretary General Sam Ocholla is threatening legal action against any person who sells the club’s merchandize without permission.
Additional reporting from the Nation
Ochola has confirmed genuine club merchandise will arrive in the country before the new season kicks off.

Even though the resumption of football is still in doubt, Ochola has warned fans against buying fake Gor Mahia merchandise that have since flooded the market.

Just like their rivals AFC Leopards who have opened a new merchandise shop in the City Centre, Ochola revealed that the original jerseys will be sold at the club’s offices located at Finance House building in Nairobi.

“Anybody be it a Gor Mahia fan or business man purporting to be selling Betsafe jerseys will face the full wrath of the law. As Gor Mahia secretariat we have not issued any permit for our Betsafe merchandise to be sold. When they are arrive, we shall engage our marketing team so that fans can get original ones and not counterfeits or fake ones,” Ochola told Nation Sport.

The official added that in the past, the club has lost a lot of revenue because of individuals who sell branded club merchandise without the secretariat’s consent. He insisted that he will personally be monitoring sale of merchandise to ensure the club gets good returns.

“We must weed out these elements who use our logo and the club doesn’t get anything. For Betsafe merchandise, we are ready to involve security agencies to help us get value for our sponsorship and money for the club. We urge fans to be patient because we have made arrangements for the merchandise to be here before the league kicks off,” he added.

Ochola also revealed that the club’s operations will be centralised at Finance House as part of concerted efforts to professionalise the club. The media mogul promised to revamp Gor Mahia after the August 8 elections saying his main focus will be to ensure players welfare is catered for so that they can do well in the Caf Champions League this season.

“We have all seen what is going on in other big clubs outside the country. Gor Mahia is a big club in Africa and we should ensure we live up to that status. I am ready to fight for the best interests of players and ensure the go slows and other problems are things of the past. Gor will be in another level during my tenure and our target is to go past group stages in Champions League,” he added.

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Gor Mahia to seek ministry permission to train

Amina Mohamed and Joe Okudo (Permanent Secretary)

The preliminary round of the Africa champions league is set to kick off on November 27 which is just over 2 months away. And with Gor Mahia having recruited several players who have never played together, the team needs to start sharpening their team tactics. With that in mind, Secretary General Sam Ocholla says Gor Mahia will seek special permission to start training.

Additional reporting from the Nation

Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions Gor Mahia will seek for a special permit from the ministries of sports and health so that they can start training’.

Gor Mahia have Caf Champions League assignments slated for November.

Even though the fixtures for Caf Confederation Cup and Champions  League are not yet out, Caf last month released a roadmap for resumption of its competitions including the 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifiers in November.

On Friday, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed issued guidelines on the resumption of sports activities in the country but football was one of the contact sports which will have to wait longer for the greenlight to resume.

With their engagements in the Africa inter-clubs tourney looming, Gor Mahia secretary general Sam Ochola says they have no choice but seek permission from the health and sports ministries to train as a unit.

Before Friday’s announcement, most Kenyan Premier League clubs had resumed training in anticipation that the 2020/21 BetKing Premier League season would start in October.

“We are participating in a tough continental assignments against teams which have already hit the ground running and that is why we have to seek for clearance from the two ministries,” said Ochola.

The recently elected official added that they had received the go a head to train in small groups by following strict Ministry of Health guidelines.

“We have been training in groups but now we have to assemble our squad and train vigorously. However, that is subject to clearance from the Ministry of Health and we are sure, we shall adhere to the protocols. Our main aim this season is to excel in continental tournament and that is why our preparation is key,” he added.

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Sec Gen Ocholla and Polack dismiss rumours

Coach Steve Pollack as well as Gor Mahia officials have come forward to dismiss all the rumours circulating about Pollack’s departure from the club.

Additional reporting from the Nation

Gor Mahia coach Steven Polack has dismissed reports that he had left the club and returned back to his home in England.

Polack said he doesn’t understand why the false information is being circulated through various news outlets and social media platforms yet he is in Kenya and having a good working relationship with Gor Mahia management.

He also castigated the reports of his alleged sacking.

The British tactician conceded that he was supposed to travel for holidays back home but clarified that will do so after the club has met its financial obligations to the technical bench and playing unit.

This he said is to ensure next season starts smoothly without the go slows and other logistics pertaining to their success in Kenyan Premier League.

“Why would I comment on rumours and speculation. Actually, I am sitting in the Kenyan sun. Relaxing. I am here in Kenya,” he told Nation Sport.

The 59-year-old tactician castigated some journalists for going a head to publish a false story.

“Let the fans know that I am here in Kenya,” he said.

There have been reports that the tactician is unhappy with the way the club has been signing players without his input.

Gor has so far signed 12 players in preparation for next season which, according to Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa, could tentatively start late next month.

Still under contract

Gor Mahia Secretary General Sam Ochola confirmed that the coach was in the country.

“The coach is a round and those reports are false. We have not sacked him or terminated his contract,” said Ochola.

Polack joined Gor Mahia a year ago as a replacement for Turkish-Cypriot Hassan Oktay who left to attend to pressing family issues only to resign from his home land weeks later.

Polack led K’Ogalo to the summit of league standings before the season was abruptly halted due to coronavirus pandemic on March 16. In his short stint he has won the Fidelity Insurance coach of the month award for October and November last year and February 2020.

He has previously coached Ghana giants Asante Kotoko.

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Ocholla vows to clean up Gor Mahia

Secretary General Sam Ocholla has vowed to clean up the corruption that has held Gor Mahia back in the past few years
Additional reporting from the Nation

To kick-off his tenure, Ochola wants the team’s management to furnish him with all audited financial statements for the past three years to ascertain whether there was transparency and accountability in usage of club funds.

A tough-talking Ochola told Nation Sport that current financial woes at the club must have been caused by misappropriation of funds from former sponsors SportPesa since 2018.

He said he doesn’t understand why Gor has been struggling financially yet it has enjoyed sponsorship since 2011.
“Gor has always had sponsors who can foot its bills for the whole year, including when they are on recess like now. But due to mismanagement and lack of transparency, all this money has been disappearing,” said Ochola.

“I am demanding to see the club’s audited accounts for the last three years, to ascertain how funds were used by those who have been in the office,” he added.
In 2011, milk processing firm – Tuzo signed a Sh38 million two-year deal with K’Ogalo, which they extended for another year for an improved figure of Sh29 million.

Betting firm SportPesa then came to their rescue in 2016 with a five-year deal worth Sh65 million per annum. However, the gaming company cancelled the deal and several other sponsorships in the country in August 2019, after the government withdrew their operating license.
With Gor facing a biting financial crisis following SportPesa exit, Agro Chemicals under their brand Patriot gave Sh1 million to the club ahead of their first round Caf Champions League return match against Algerian side USM Alger.

The Resident Director and Chief Executive of Agro-Chemical and Food Company Limited Ashok Agrawal presents dummy cheque to Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier during unveiling of their partnership on October 30, 2019.

Ochola said it was unfortunate that the club is losing key players to rival teams like Simba SC and Wazito yet it could be financially stable had the funds from previous sponsorship been utilised well.
Defender Joash Onyango’s exit to Tanzania’s Simba last week increased to seven the number of players who have ditched K’Ogalo this transfer window.

Others are goalkeepers David Mapigano and Peter Odhiambo who have joined Azam FC and Wazito respectively, Dickson Ambudo who signed for Dodoma Jiji FC in Tanzania and speedy forward Boniface Omondi who crossed over to Wazito.

Captain Kenneth Muguna, Jackson Owusu and Ugandan import Juma Balinya are also on the verge of leaving the record Kenyan Premier League champions.

Coach Steven Polack has also announced that he will be traveling to his home land Britain this week raising fears that he may not come back just like Hassan Oktay, Frank Nuttal and Dylan Kerr who left under similar circumstances.

With the mass exodus of players likely to affect Gor’s performance in future, Ochola who was elected unopposed has assured that he will be keen on how Gor manages its transfers. He says improving welfare is one way he intends to retain key players.

“To ensure clubs like Simba reduce their free will raid on Gor, moving forward we shall take better care of our players and make sure all their salaries and benefits are paid in time,” Ochola said.

In June, Gor got a new lease of life when Bet High Kenya Limited under their flagship brand, BetSafe agreed to sponsor them to a tune of Sh55 million per season for the next three years.
And the club will also receive Sh8 million per season as grants as part of Sh1.2 billion sponsorship from BetKing for the top tier league announced by Football Kenya Federation for the next five years.
Ochola said that to ensure the funds are not misappropriated, a system to enhance accountability must be put in place.

“The reason why corrupt practices have found their way in Gor is because of lack of structures. With a leaner Executive Committee (EC) team, we are putting governance and proper communication channels in place to close the loopholes that some former EC officials were capitalising on to cut dirty deals for self-satisfaction,” he said.
“As the head of the Secretariat, it is my duty in consultation with my colleagues in the EC to establish structures that will not allow room for corruption,” said the media mogul.

He also took issue with the club’s failure to generate revenue from player transfers. “We have sketchy contracts and dubious agents who sign with us for one season or maximum two seasons then somehow, players end up leaving the club as free agents giving us a raw deal in terms of earning revenue, through sales of the players to other clubs. This has made us lose millions of Kenya shillings that could easily supplement the sponsorship revenues we are getting today from betting firms,” lamented Ochola.

While revealing that some top foreign players will join the club by the end of August, Ocholla said that moving forward, they will seek to strengthen the youth team to provide them with replacements for players who are leaving.

He stated that he intends to achieve that by creating a department in his office to monitor the progress of the youth team and also ensure that it receives 20 percent of all the club’s sponsorships, as enshrined in the constitution.

“Our sponsors also have to support the youth team. There is always a 20 percent provision for the youth team in Gor’s constitution,” said Ocholla, whose media company – Dala FM in Kisumu – sponsored the youth team for three years.

Ochola also wants the club to adopt a business model as a way of ensuring financial independence.
“We will be deliberating on the process of building a business model that will see the club become a full commercial entity, as well as retaining its wonderful character of a fans-based club like Barcelona. This will however take time to establish, but we remain keen on actualising it.”

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