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Relief as Sofapaka and Muhoroni back to KPL

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Sofapaka fought hard to evade relegation last season, finishing 14th after a last day 5-1 win over Thika United. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 15 –The Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) has overturned the decision by the Football Kenya Federation to relegate Sofapaka and Muhoroni Youth from the Kenyan Premier League on club licensing basis.

In a 21-page ruling on Wednesday evening, Tribunal chairman John Ohaga has termed the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) club licensing manual as defective and that most of the clauses in the manual are not reflective of the CAF and FIFA manual.

“We find that the FKF club licensing regulations as set out in the manual defective in certain material aspects. We also find the manner in which the club licensing committee undertook its responsibility to be wanting,” Ohaga stated in the ruling.

The ruling further added that FKF remains at liberty to require Sofapaka so subject itself to the club licensing manual once they have rectified the anomalies identified in the manual.

FKF lawyer Patricia Mitei speaking to Capital Sport after the decision was read out has said the federation will now embark on correcting the manual after which they will call for a Special General Meeting to scrutinize and pass it for clubs to re-apply.

“We are happy with the decision. It has taken long but justice has been served. The boys are ready because we have been training for KPL. We have always known we will be back to the league and this time we will not struggle like last season,” Sofapaka assistant coach John Baraza who attended the hearing said.

Sofapaka FC assistant coach John Baraza (right) with KPL CEO Jack Oguda (centre) and SOfapaka CEO Emmanuel Kayoyi listening to the ruling by the Sports Disputes Tribunal Chairperson on March 15, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The decision had been made for Sofapaka alone as both clubs had presented their case differently, but legal representatives from the two clubs and KPL asked the tribunal to apply the same ruling for Muhoroni Youth.

Mitei appearing for FKF however objected to the decision saying both clubs had been relegated for different reasons and so the Muhoroni case should go into full hearing and determined separately.

However, Mary Bonyo appearing for both clubs as well as KPL and Jimmy Simiyu appearing for the fans who had been enjoined as interested parties argued that since the tribunal had already ruled that the licensing rule book was defective, then it wouldn’t be right to use the same on Muhoroni.

Ohaga in his brief ruling on the second application directed that the same ruling would apply for Muhoroni and as such they will be reinstated to the KPL.

Football Kenya Federation’s (FKF) failure to give the tribunal Sofapaka’s score card came to haunt them as the tribunal said it cannot ascertain most of the claims made during hearing by the federation.

“The tribunal was not given the scorecard and therefore has no visibility of the manner in which the licensing committee conducted the scoring and arrived at the score of 38.5 percent which placed the club under the red range,” Ohaga’s ruling read.

FKF cub licensing committee chairman Professor Edwin Wamukoya had told the tribunal during the hearing that there was a non-disclosure clause signed by all clubs which prevented the committee from making public scores for various clubs.

Sofapaka and Muhoroni Youth fans listen to the ruling by the Sports Disputes Tribunal Chairperson John Ohaga on March 15, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Also questioned by the tribunal was the document signed by the federation saying the club licensing rules would come into force by August 1 whereas the FKF Annual General Meeting only approved of the same on October 15.

Another issue raised by the tribunal was failure of the federation to provide a book of sanctions as provided for in the CAF and FIFA regulations.

“We find this omission to be material from both the context of guidelines established by CAF and the tenets of fair administrative action,” the tribunal ruled.

While acknowledging that the club licensing rules would go a long way in improving football in the country, the tribunal further went on to state that a club’s entitlement to take part in a domestic league championship shall depend principally on sporting merit.

“And where considerations other than sporting merit come into play and result in the relegation of a club, the process by which the decision has been reached must be one  that can stand up in scrutiny both in respect of substance and form,” the ruling further noted.

The tribunal further questioned the independence of both the club licensing committee and the appeals board which according to the FIFA and CAF regulations must be independent.

The tribunal questioned their independence as they were appointed by the federation and hence could not be certified as 100 percent independent.

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