Wazito FC was to be the yardstick for measuring sound management and success in club football in Kenya after the club was acquired by businessman Ricardo Badoer through Badoer Investment Limited in October last year.
In a country whose “big clubs” like Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards are seasoned beggars, Wazito was meant to be the shining light, the hope for a better future where football will for once become a well-paying profession.
Tough-talking, bullish and flamboyant, Ricardo rolled out his big ambitions for the club with the confidence of a judge. In an interview with Business Today, the Dubai-based Spaniard offered that he wanted to pump in “a lot of money” in the club with an aim of making it “Africa’s most successful club.”
True to his word, Badoer substantially invested in the team — revamping the playing unit, buying a new team bus straight from the showroom and paying competitive salaries. The club was the talk of town and the envy of many.
This initial investment paid off quick with the team regaining their Kenyan Premier League status this season after winning the National Super League. But that was the end of the honeymoon as life in the topflight has been nothing but a pure nightmare.
Despite overhauling the squad which propelled them back to the KPL and signing big names like former Gor Mahia trio Karim Nizigiyimana, Abouba Sibomana and Ali Abondo, results have not been positive and the club has so far sacked two coaches, Fred Ambani, who led them back to KPL and Melis Medo, who only lasted over three games.
In 12 fixtures, the team has only managed two wins, 5 loses and equal number of draws.
Badoer on the other hand sound frustrated and no longer spit fire on Twitter like he used to. He has also scaled down on his initial ambition of winning this season’s league. Instead, he’s now focusing on a respectable finish to the season and rebuilding for future success, according to his many tweets.
This frustration, Kahawa Tungu has learnt, stems from lack of shared vision for growth amongst certain officials of the club, who are only taking advantage of Badoer’s millions to enrich themselves.
“These guys are just greedy, they are not interested in developing this club, their only interest is Badoer’s money,” a source, who asked not to be quoted for safety reasons, said.
We also interviewed a few players, who revealed that things are not as shinny as they appear.
“There are a lot of issues, but we can’t talk, some of us, for example, have not been paid sign-on fees in full. At times we are subjected to substandard conditions when we travel for away matches when we know there’s money,” one player, who did not want to be mentioned, said.
An official of the club, who also did not want to be mentioned, acknowledged that it’s true that some signing on fees have not been cleared, but they will be sorted out this month.
In October four players suffered food poisoning with some being rushed to hospital after eating at a joint in Nairobi, deemed substandard, ahead of their league fixture against Mathare United, which ended in a 2-2 draw in Machakos.
There are also accusations of favouritism in fielding of players depending on which official or coach recommended your signing. This was rampant during Ambani’s tenure, according to a source.
To wrestle the Wazito dream from greed, Badoer is reportedly restructuring the management of the club.
He recently announced that Solomon Alubala, the club’s sporting director and treasurer, would step down, with the CEO, Dennis Gicheru and himself taking over business negotiations.
“This is all part of our future plans and my vision of how a football team should run.