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Tribunal throws out Thika’s play/off petition

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Thika United head coach Nicholas Muyoti watches on the touchline during his side’s Kenyan Premier League clash against Gor Mahia at the Thika Sub-County Stadium on September 17, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 20- Thika United will after all take part in the promotion and relegation play/off against National Super League side Ushuru FC after the Sports Disputes Tribunal threw out their petition challenging the game.

The ruling, delivered on Tuesday evening by chair John Ohaga further directed Thika United to bear all the costs for the petition, punching a huge financial blow to the Kenyan Premier League side and its ambition to avoid the play-off.

“In view of the conduct of the petitioner, we direct that it meets the costs of the respondents and the interested party on a full indemnity basis. It shall also be responsible for any wasted costs occasioned by the postponement of the play-offs,” Ohaga’s ruling read.

Thika had earlier obtained temporary orders stopping the play off initially det for December 10 and 13, but the same have since been vacated.

The tribunal was visibly irked with Thika’s lack of legal backing when they argued that the play-off was illegitimate as they were informed of it after the season had ended, but the tribunal dismissed this claim as Football Kenya Federation had written a letter to KPL in March, before the season started.

“We remind not only the petitioners but all parties who approach this tribunal that the duty of a litigant is to make a full and fair disclosure of the material facts. In the present case it is our view that the non-disclosure was not innocent at all but deliberate and such conduct cannot be countenanced by this tribunal,” Ohaga’s ruling further noted.

The tribunal was displeased with the fact that Thika did not support their claims that the promotion and relegation rules were changed at the end of the season.

“The tribunal during the inter-parte hearing ceded to the fact that they were aware of the letters dated 20th March and 6th June 2017 that communicated the changes. As a matter of fact, they had a representative during the pre-match meetings and had been a party to the whole process,” the tribunal further said.

Thika United players hurdle together to celebrate a goal scored against Mathare United at the Thika Sub County Stadium on March 12, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Ohaga’s team admitted that they might have been misled in issuing the temporary orders barring the play-off by concealment of material facts.

Also, the tribunal was astounded by the fact that Thika United sent a representative, George Maina to a play-off meeting at FKF’s Goal Porject offices on November 29 where there was a coin toss to determine who starts home and who starts away.

Further, Maina wrote a letter to the league managers involving them of the results of the coin toss and further asked whether they could act on their behalf to petition FKF to move the play-ff dates due to the closure of their Thika Stadium home ground.

The tribunal was hence astounded as to why, days later, Thika would go on and file a petition seeking to stop the play-off.

Also, the tribunal further noted that the communication on the play off was done to all parties and in time and argued that if anyone was against it, then they would have taken immediate action and not wait for almost a month to make their move.

KPL’s Governing Council early last month said they would be okay with Thika taking part in the play-off, with a source at the league body intimating to Capital Sport they would have no legal ground to object to it.

FKF is now set to pick out a new date.

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