NAIROBI, Kenya, February 18- Kenya football has lost on Wednesday after last-ditch talks between Football Kenya Federation and Kenyan Premier League to resolve the 2015 Premier League standoff collapsed after a day of grandstanding, divisions and ultimately failure to thrash out an agreement between the feuding bodies.
The second round of deliberations at Nairobi’s Southern Sun Hotel; with three representatives from both parties in the afternoon after heated exchanges in the morning session; came to a premature close when KPL officials walked out after FKF floated suggestion of settling the matter with a vote claiming this method was skewed heavily against them in numbers.
“There was no agreement, we were told to agree and not to vote, I do not know what the minister will say but the fact is that we have not agreed on anything.
“The contentious issue is that we have not known why we are required to have 18 teams and why now, nobody has given us an expiation,” the defiant chairman of the league management body, Ambrose Rachier, who alongside Sofapaka’s Elly Kalekwa and KCB’s George Odhiambo were the three representatives for their side in the last round of discussions said.
In his address to the media, FKF president, Sam Nyamweya announced he would be tabling a report of the collapsed talks to Sports Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Hassan Wario and copy Fifa saying he would invoke the world body’s rules to enforce a FKF Premier League.
He gave top flight clubs a deadline of 5pm Thursday deadline to confirm participation in the federation run league or they would risk tough sanctions adding KPL were no longer their members.
“We tabled a proposal where we accepted to allow them run the league but under 18 teams. KPL told us they didn’t have a problem but it was SuperSport who are against it,” the federation boss claimed blaming the stand-off to the South African owned KPL broadcast partners who renewed a contract with them until 2021.
He further charged they had agreed to give each team in the top Sh1m each month for nine months but yet again, SuperSport had declined the arrangement borne of a deal entered by FKF and MP&S agency to sell broadcast rights to the league although later, the president told the press he will speak to the KPL broadcast rights holder to ascertain whether that was their stand as claimed by the company bosses.
Speaking to Capital Sport, KPL CEO Jack Oguda denied they cited SuperSport as the reason behind their refusal to accept the 18-team format.
“There is nothing like that. They want to drag SuperSport into this matter. They also forwarded their contracts with other partners and we also have our own contractual obligations so SuperSport is not the reason why we could not agree,” Oguda maintained.
From the minute both sides entered the venue, tensions were high with the presence of four police officers standing guard outside adding to the apprehension.
Nyamweya and his FKF top brass in tow were the first on to the meeting with KPL management and chairmen of the clubs at the centre of the dispute trickling in.
Early indications of the strain were evident when Nyamweya, who chaired the meeting in the absence of a mediator was heard denying he had a hand with promotion of Shabana FC, a team from his home region to the top flight.
Then KPL bigwig and Mathare United chairman, Bob Munro, left the talks expressing doubt a solution would be reached by close of business Wednesday.
“You know what you need to know the discussion is still on and I have confidence in my colleagues and chairman in coming to a satisfactory conclusion.
“I have another appointment so I’m not storming out and I have never stormed out of a meeting. Everybody is being given a chance to speak which is fair but can’t be sure if we will have a decision today,” Munro told reporters as he entered his car.
The exit of the influential figure that was among the architects of KPL from the stormy meeting stirred controversy with Nyaweya, heard saying; “Munro has disrespected us and walked out.”
A 30-minute break was called where FKF and KPL chose three representatives each to continue the deliberations in the afternoon with Nyamweya, his vice-president Robert Asembo and executive committee member, Doris Petra holding brief for the federation.
That session too ended in acrimony and the final walkout from KPL buried any chance a local solution pressed first by Fifa and Wario when he met both parties in his office on Monday would be found.
In his meeting, the minister said he would seek an end to the dispute in accordance with the Sports Act with talk he will disband both bodies and appoint caretaker committees to run football and the league gathering momentum in the last 24 hours.
This however, would contravene Fifa statutes against State interference in football that automatically triggers international suspension in what would deny the players at the centre of the tug of war livelihoods besides impacting negatively on national team activities as well as clubs participating in continental competitions.
With three previous joined meetings preceding Wednesday’s crunch talks also failing to end the impasse; hardline positions adopted by both parties made resolution to the conflict impossible.
Since the end of last season in November, FKF have remained steadfast onthe 18-league format with KPL sticking to their 16-team guns.
On Sunday, the competition christened FKF Premier League kicked-off in Machakos with Shabana beating home side Nakumatt FC 1-0 with KPL scheduled to start theirs this weekend with defending champions, Gor Mahia FC facing 2008 winners Mathare United in one of the key fixtures unless immediate intervention from Government of Fifa halts the shame of parallel leagues.
When Kenya found herself on such crossroads in 2006, the country served a Fifa ban that was lifted when the then feuding parties, hammered out an agreement in Cairo that led to the formation of KPL, an entity FKF is hellbent on erasing from history books as the league management body.