Deadlock as KPL plays hardball on league expansion

Former KPL chair Ambrose Rachier confers with lawyer Mary Bonyo during the hearing at the Sports Disputes Tribunal on January 17, 2017.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 17- The discussion between Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) over the expansion of the top tier league to an 18-team format has stalled over KPL’s refusal to produce contracts with sponsors Supersport and SportPesa as per a request from FKF.

The federation has agreed to cater for the costs of an additional two teams to the top tier, but before then, they have demanded to have copies of the contracts to assure themselves of the exact amount needed to cater for the two new teams.

KPL have chosen to play hardball over the same, saying they signed clauses of non-disclosure with the sponsors and hence cannot share the contents of the contracts with a third party.

KPL and FKF were reporting back to the Sports Disputes Tribunal on Tuesday afternoon after being given a week to sort out the differences and it was expected a final deal would be laid out on the table to bring the matter to rest.

“There was a Joint Executive Committee (JEC) meeting between both parties on Friday and Saturday and in both meetings; this issue of the contract was not raised. Why are they raising it now outside the meeting? It raises suspicion over the motive,” KPL lawyer Mary Bonyo appearing on behalf of Geoffrey Obura told the tribunal.

According to the final deal, a figure of Sh69.6mn was tabled as the cost of adding two more teams with the parties agreeing only on Sh38.7mn while a further Sh31mn is yet to be agreed upon.

FKF have said they will provide the extra money required and will be ready to forfeit their annual affiliation fee paid from KPL as part of the cash to finance the protracted 66 extra matches.

“My client wants to know the exact money it should be getting from KPL and that is the reason we want a copy of the contract. We don’t know exactly how much they should be getting because we have never seen a copy of the contract,” lawyer Patricia Mitei appearing for FKF argued.

Sports Disputes Tribunal chair John Ohaga.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The tribunal has now directed KPL to seek within the next 24 hours a waiver from the sponsors on whether they can disclose the contents of the contract and they should notify FKF within another 24 hours on the new position.

The two bodies are expected back in the tribunal on January 24 where a final settlement is expected.

Tribunal chair John Ohaga has said that if a deal is not reached by then, then they will take up the matter and supervise the final leg of negotiations and reach a deal before the league starts on February 11.

Mitei had earlier asked whether the tribunal could direct KPL to produce the contracts, but Ohaga said they can’t intrude on the contractual position of the league managers and the sponsors.

According to the figures obtained by Capital Sports, KPL and FKF have not agreed on a further Sh31mn budgetary protraction that includes a Sh4.6mn cost of two more teams in the KPL U20 championship, a further Sh23mn cost of an additional two more players for each of the 16 clubs and a further Sh1.4mn cost of injured players in the extra month occasioned by an additional two teams.

They have also included a Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) inflation rate of Sh1.8mn.

According to KPL, adding another month with 66 more matches will increase the risk of injury to players and this will require clubs to add at least two more players to the regular roaster of 30.

The league managers say they will be ready to admit two more teams in the league as long as they get guarantees from the federation they will foot the bill, one that is also yet to be agreed.