A Kenyan betting company is expanding to the UK through the shirts of a Premier League club

“Our new sponsors are all the way from Kenya?”
“Our new sponsors are all the way from Kenya?”
Image: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth
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SportPesa, a Kenyan sports betting company, has announced a shirt sponsorship deal with English Premier League club, Hull City.

Although terms are undisclosed, the deal, which will run for three years, is “by far the largest” in the history of the newly promoted Premier League club. For SportPesa, which was founded in 2014, an affiliation with the world’s most popular soccer league is also a precursor to an expansion into and beyond the betting market in the UK.

Founded in 2014, SportPesa has grown rapidly. Its monthly net revenue is estimated to be more than $10 million. The company has now set its sights on growing beyond Kenya. In a statement, Ronald Karauri, SportPesa chief executive, said the deal “marks the scaling of a Kenyan brand into the global market.”

Karauri says the company “will now be available in the United Kingdom and later in the year present in several African countries.” He also expects  SportPesa to “have presence in at least four continents” in about a year.

While most Hull City fans are likely pleased with the injection of fresh sponsorship money as the club returns to the Premier League after a one-year absence, the deal has been less celebrated in Kenya. Instead, it has been met with scathing criticism as some Kenyans question the company’s decision to sponsor a foreign team.

SportPesa does actively back sports in the country. Last year, the company signed a $4.4 million deal to sponsor the local soccer league and it also sponsors two of the league’s leading clubs, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards. Most recently, SportPesa agreed a $5.9 million, five-year sponsorship with the Kenyan Rugby Union.