NAIROBI, December 18- The thorny issue on whether to expand the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) to 18 teams or retain the current 16 will now be decided by a joint task force of Football Kenya Federation and league management company following world body Fifa brokered talks on Friday.
Two separate meetings between FKF, KPL Governing Council and three representatives from Fifa failed to reach a firm decision on the composition of next season’s top flight with the world governing body requested to second a consultant to unlock the impasse before the scheduled start of the competition in February.
The first meeting which started at 9:30am local time (+3GMT) involved FKF officials, Fifa officials and all KPL club chairmen curiously among them, bosses from relegated Nakuru All Stars and Nairobi City Stars Robert Muthomi and Peter Jabuya as well as one from the extra-sides promoted by the federation Kakamega Homeboyz chair Cleophas Shimanyula.
A joint statement signed by FKF president Sam Nyamweya and KPL chairman Ambrose Rachier said each side would be represented by three persons in meetings with the Fifa expert to unlock the impasse whose decision will be binding on both sides.
“Arising from the deliberations, it was agreed FIFA will as soon as possible; make available a consultant who will hold meetings with the federation, KPL and all stakeholders before making recommendations.
“In coming up with the recommendations, the consultant will look into the pros and cons of having an expanded league or otherwise, submissions of the federation and league administrators, contractual obligations and financial implications thereof,” the declaration stated.
FKF will be represented by its Executive Committee top brass of Nyamweya, his deputy Robert Asembo and Doris Petra, the chairperson League and Competitions Committee with Rachier, Mathare United chairman Bob Munro and fellow KCB FC boss George Odhiambo holding brief for KPL.
This nominal truce was arrived at during the second meeting where the chosen representatives sat down with the world body officials.
South Africa’s veteran Fifa administrator, Ashford Mamelodi led the Fifa delegation alongside Robert Niemann and James Johnson that mediated Friday’s talks and gave direction .
“I am confident that after the consultant comes, we will get a decision. He will look at all the possibilities of having or not having an expanded league, from contracts that are existing and the infrastructure that is there,” Mamelodi said.
Mamelodi was part of world body officials who midwifed the Normalisation Process of Kenyan Football that culminated in joint elections of 2011 which brought Nyamweya to the helm of FKF as the country got out of two parallel opposing football bodies.
It was during this process to streamline the country’s football that a 16-team top flight was adopted although open to expansion of 18 teams after three seasons following talks in Cairo when two competing leagues surfaced in 2006.
FKF opened the current imbroglio last month when they declared the 2015 top-flight would feature 18 teams, elevating Shabana FC, Posta Rangers, Kakamega Homeboyz and Nakumatt FC with Nairobi City Stars and Top Fry Nakuru demoted to National Super League.
After resistance from KPL, FKF further ordered all clubs featuring in the competition plus new boys to register with them on or before December 15 with KPL ordered to change into FKF Premier League or otherwise, the federation would seek another company to administer top flight on their behalf.
At the centre of the standoff is control of huge finances by local standards remitted to KPL by title sponsors East Africa Breweries through their Tusker brand and broadcast partners SuperSport said by FKF to be Sh270m annually.
The Government, notably through Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Arts Dr. Hassan Wario, maintained KPL was ‘here to stay’ and would resist any move to disband or wrest the top-flight out of their control.