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Tribunal throws out KPL petition over 18 team

Sports Disputes Tribunal chairman John Ohaga. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 10 – The Sports Disputes Tribunal has thrown out a petition by the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) seeking a permanent injunction stopping Football Kenya Federation from discussing and implementing the expansion of the top tier league to 18 teams.

In a 21-page ruling, Tribunal chairman John Ohaga on Tuesday directed both parties to constitute a Joint Executive Committee (JEC) which will look at the expansion of the Kenyan Premier League and should report back the deliberations by January 17.

“The Joint Executive Committee duly constituted by the nominees of KPL and FKF shall convene a meeting and discus the merits, modalities and mechanisms for the expansion of the league which discussions must be concluded by Monday, January 16, 2017. The parties shall report the outcome of the discussion and decisions at the tribunal sitting on Tuesday, January 17,” Ohaga directed.

An expanded league will most likely take effect from 2018 with Football Kenya Federation (FKF) on Monday announcing that only 15 teams will play in the top tier this year over club licensing reasons.

FKF will now be required by close of business on Wednesday nominate and communicate to the KPL its nominees to the JEC to start discussions over the merits, modalities and mechanism of expanding the top tier league.

KPL Lawyer geoffrey Obura shares a moment with CEO Jack Oguda at the Sports Dispute Tribunal on January 10, 2017.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

At the same, the Tribunal has issued a permanent injunction restraining FKF from interfering with KPL’s right to manage the top tier league during the currency of the agreement signed in September 2015.

KPL had gone to the tribunal on October 12, seeking to stop FKF from discussing the expansion of the league to 18 teams at their 4th Annual General meeting on October 15.

They also wanted an interpretation from the Sports Dispute Tribunal on the validity of the agreement September 2015 agreement.

According to the September 2015 agreement, matters over any changes on the league should be deliberated and agreed on at least one season prior.

In its ruling, the Tribunal said that the agreement was legal and binding, save for the fact that KPL had a casting vote in the proposed four-member JEC.

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Football kenya Federation Officials consult at the SPorts Dispute Tribunal on January 10, 2017.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“The provision giving KPL a casting vote subordinates the FKF to the KPL with respect to the expansion of the league. Such subordination contravenes Article 18 of the FIFA statutes. It further contravenes Article 17.1 of the FKF constitution that all affiliates shall be subordinate to and recognized by FKF,” the tribunal’s ruling read in part.

The ruling further assented to the fact that it is within the jurisdiction of the federation to promote, relegate and control football in the country and is within the remit of their leaders to debate merits and demerits of expansion and not within KPL.

Ohaga in his ruling also said the KPL cannot subvert the aspirations of FKF to increase the number of teams in the league especially with the federation having said they will avail resources to fund the two extra teams.

FKF had also challenged on the legality of KPL, saying they were not registered under the Sports Act, but Ohaga said with KPL having submitted their papers to the registrar, they were deemed as a legal entity until such a time as the registrar deems otherwise.

The Federation through its lawyer Ken Ochieng’ had also argued that the agreement violates FIFA statutes, but the tribunal ruled against.

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