Sporting KC loans Kei Kamara to Norwich City F.C.
Sporting KC forward loaned to EPL club through May 6
(January 30, 2013) - Sporting Kansas City announced on Wednesday that the club has loaned forward Kei Kamara to Norwich City F.C. (English Premier League) through May 6, pending Kamara receiving authorization for a work permit . Sporting Kansas City will receive two-thirds of the substantial loan fee to use as allocation money^ per MLS rules. If Norwich City elects not to acquire the player on a full transfer by May 6, then Kamara will rejoin Sporting Kansas City, where he will be available to play immediately for the club. As part of the agreement, Kamara's contract with MLS has been extended.
"Our club continues to get a lot of attention throughout Europe," Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes said. "As we do with all of our decisions, we always think about the long-term impact on our organization, as well as the short-term. Ultimately, this opportunity allows us to re-invest back into the club and solidify our core group of players.
"We understand that players are going to be sought after and that players aspire to fulfill personal and professional ambitions. We want to continue to help them achieve those goals and this helps us accomplish that objective, along with extending his contract. We have a very strong roster and this enables another player to step up."
In seven MLS seasons, Kamara has 45 goals and 21 assists in 178 appearances. He has led Sporting KC in scoring each of the last three seasons, including a career-high 11 goals and eight assists last year.
A 2012 MLS All-Star, Kamara has also been a finalist for MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year the past two seasons for his community efforts in Kansas City and his native Sierra Leone.
"It is a very bittersweet day as I am excited to achieve one of my goals, which was to play in the EPL," Kamara said. "Being such a positive person, I trust in this decision and am thankful for the opportunity to play at Norwich City through the end of their season. I am grateful for the coaching staff at Sporting KC and especially Peter (Vermes) for believing in me and helping me through this process."
Kamara is set to become the second player acquired by an English Premier League club from Sporting Kansas City during the January transfer window. Midfielder Roger Espinoza joined Wigan Athletic earlier this month after five years in Kansas City.
Sporting Kansas City, first place finishers in the Eastern Conference each of the last two years, will begin the 2013 season on March 2. Manager Peter Vermes' roster returns captain and MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Jimmy Nielsen, MLS MVP finalist Graham Zusi, MLS Defender of the Year Matt Besler and MLS Best XI selection Aurelien Collin, alongside new attacking additions that include Designated Player Claudio Bieler and U.S. Men's National Team midfielder Benny Feilhaber.
^In accordance with MLS Roster Rules and Regulations , allocation money does not count against a club's salary budget and can be used:
To sign players new to MLS
To re-sign an existing MLS player, subject to League approval
To "buy-down" a player's salary budget charge below the League maximum
In connection with the exercise of an option to purchase a player's rights or the extension of a player's contract for the second year provided the player was new to MLS in the immediately prior year
OPEN LETTER FROM SPORTING KC CEO ROBB HEINEMANN:
So, I wanted to write you a note about Kei. I’m sure you know by now we’ve agreed to loan Kei to Norwich City in the EPL until early May. I’ve just returned from Tucson and had the opportunity to be very involved in this, and I spoke with Kei over the past couple days as we worked through things. I need to preface this by telling you that we love having Kei on our team. He’s performed, connected with fans and created a life for himself in Kansas City that will last long after he’s done with soccer.
One of the frustrating things for fans, but a fact of life, is that our players will have aspirations to play in the top leagues throughout the world – most especially the EPL. If we are to continue on the track of being a well-respected organization for player development, then it will be inevitable that teams will come after our players and that our players will have desires to go test their talents in these top leagues.
As an organization, we are never going to begrudge them for it – and we certainly don’t in this case with Kei. We’ve committed to you that our goal is to produce a consistent, championship-caliber team over the long-term. We’ve been outspoken early this year that an MLS championship is our primary goal. In light of today’s news, nothing has changed in our expectations. It’s situations like this that test our organization’s ability to maximize the opportunity to meet both of those goals, while working with our players’ aspirations and professional development.
Strange as it may seem, we think this gives us the best opportunity to keep Kei long-term. As much as he loves Kansas City, Kei deeply wants to experience the EPL and this is his chance. So we’ve partnered with him to give him the chance to do so for the first 10 games this season. The loan proceeds will allow us to reinvest in our existing young core of players and solidify their futures in the club. In the event Kei is signed by Norwich City, our club would receive a very fair transfer fee that again, we’d use to reinvest in our club. If Kei returns in May, his contract is extended and we will work in earnest to sign him to a deal that keeps him with the club through the end of his career. If we hadn’t have done this, Kei would have left at the end of the year as a “free” player, similar to Roger Espinoza this past year. So the risk we take is allowing him to go for 10 games this year, in hopes of getting him for years to come.
I’m not going to say to you that “this is a business,” and you have to get used to it. I know it’s not a business to you, it’s very personal. It is to us as well. We get to know these young men very well, and do what we can to create a partnership that encourages them to connect with the community and hopefully stick around for the long-term. We don’t like it when they go. I understand the impact this has on your kids as well – to the nth degree. My seven- and six-year-olds, Katherine and Charlie, don’t ask me, “Why did they let him go?” They ask me, “Why did YOU let him go?” so I get it…..
We want Kei to continue to be successful. He deserves it for the hard work he’s put in. There’s a chance we won’t get him back, and if so, we can all cheer him on in the EPL and be proud to call him one of ours. But if he comes back, I know we’ll all welcome him with #heartshapedhands.