Formula One team Racing Point has terminated its title sponsorship with Kenyan bookmaker SportPesa due to ‘difficulties in their home market’, according to the firm’s team principal Otmar Szafnauer.
Racing Point had initially signed a multi-year title sponsorship with SportPesa ahead of the 2019 F1 season, marked as the Kenyan betting group’s biggest-ever sponsorship commitment. However, as a new F1 season approaches (start date 15 March – Melbourne Grand Prix) the bookmaker abruptly ended the title sponsorship.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Szafnauer stated: “They had some difficulties in their home market. They still want to be involved but maybe at a different level, but not as a title sponsor.
“So we’re still talking to them and they’re friends of the team and hopefully we can also include them as part of our sponsors and partners.”
The home market problems Szafnauer mentioned seemingly refers to SportPesa becoming the highest-profile bookmaker to be expelled from the Kenyan market in 2019, following a dispute with the Uhuru Kenyatta government in relation to unpaid player taxes.
Kenya’s recent gambling reform also resulted in Betin, another major market participant, reportedly giving up and opting for closure and redundancy.
SportPesa has yet to reclaim access to its hometown markets. With the tax dispute seemingly not coming to an end, it appears that professional sports teams associated with of the company have decided to pull out of existing agreements.
Along with Racing Point, Everton has also recently pulled out of a multi-year partnership with SportPesa. The club had previously promoted the betting firm on its shirts, as well as being considered a major partner on SportPesa’s website alongside fellow partner Hull City.
Replacing SportPesa as Racing Point’s title sponsor will be BWT, a manufacturer of water treatment systems based in Austria.
As mentioned earlier, SportPesa and Racing Point are in discussions over a new partnership. However, the deal will certainly be less financially lucrative compared to last year’s deal.