NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 6- Football Kenya Federation has opted out of mediation with the Kenyan Premier League limited to resolve the impasse over the expansion of the top-tier league to an 18-team format.
The Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) had asked the two bodies to look for a settlement outside its jurisdiction and if that failed, they were ready to mediate in search of a lasting solution.
However, while appearing before the tribunal on Tuesday afternoon, FKF through their lawyer Ken Ochieng said they will not take the mediation route but instead make their submissions and let the tribunal make its ruling.
“These are the instructions I have been given. My client feels that there will be no agreement reached and that is why we have not appointed a team for the same. We will make our submissions and let the tribunal make its ruling on the matter. We feel that mediation will drag this process longer and it is a matter of urgency so it is better for the tribunal to take up and give the way forward,” Ochieng said.
The tribunal had asked each side to nominate three individuals to sit on the mediation table to solve the crisis with KPL having already nominated incoming chairman James Musyoki, his outgoing counterpart Ambrose Rachier and Mathare United top dog Bob Munro.
After consultation, SDT deputy chair Elyna Shiveka who chaired the meeting in the absence of her boss John Ohaga said the matter will go into full hearing with the next meeting scheduled for Tuesday December 13.
“We were ready for mediation and it is quite interesting that FKF are not ready for it when this honorable tribunal had already agreed to mediate. My clients will oblige with the wishes of the honorable chair,” Geoffrey Obura representing KPL said.
His sentiments were echoed by KPL chair Ambrose Rachier who told Capital Sport on the sidelines that they were ready to negotiate to end the impasse.
“We will let the tribunal do its work and wait for the ruling. We were ready to sit down and talk and come up with agreements, but it seems they are not ready for that,” Rachier said.
The tribunal has also extended orders barring FKF from discussing and implementing their wishes until the matter is heard and determined.
KPL officials obtained an injunction from the tribunal prior to FKF’s Annual General Meeting in October, barring them from discussing and adopting the decision to expand the league to an 18-team format.
KPL argued the same was contrary to the agreement signed between the two bodies last year which underscored that for any changes to be made to the top tier, then both sides must agree.
“We only want the tribunal to interpret for us the MoU we signed last year. Contrary to what many people believe, we are not against the expansion of the league, if it is done procedurally,” Rachier said.
Since their failed meeting at the Kasarani Stadium early November, the two sides have had only one official meeting with the second which was set for Monday afternoon failed to take off due to the unavailability of the FKF lawyers.
Capital Sport has learnt that the elephant in the room is the financing of the two extra teams with broadcast partners Supersport saying they will not add more money to the already agreed amount.
Also, league partners Sportpesa are said to have offered an extra Sh5mn which according to KPL is a drop in the ocean.
A source privy to the matter told Capital Sport that in the minimum, Sh33mn is needed to finance the two extra teams who will bring up an additional 66 matches to the league roster.
“That was the amount floated when the issue first came up. If no money is added, then the league managers will be forced to slash down the allocation to the other teams so as to finance the two new ones. Obviously it is not a matter that will be received with open arms. That is the big point of contention,” the source said.
It is understood that KPL are ready to agree to an 18-team format as long as the federation gives them a guarantee that the extra costs will be fully taken care of.