NAIROBI, Kenya, May 23- The frosty relations between the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) has just taken a new twist after FKF boss Nick Mwendwa revealed the contract between them and the league managers will not be renewed when the current term expires in 2020.
Mwendwa announced this decision on Wednesday night, just moments after the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) ruled that FKF should not interfere with KPL’s running of the league.
“This contract ends in 2020. It was signed by our predecessors and there’s nothing we can do. They (KPL) don’t feel like they want to support the national team. In September 2020 it ends and maybe from there we will implement what we want to implement. But till then we will keep tussling with them,” an agitated Mwendwa told Capital Sport.
He added; “For sure, this means continuing to have KPL will be impossible after two years. For us there is no way we can delegate this authority again to such a company.”
KPL had gone to the tribunal on Tuesday evening under a certificate of urgency, accusing FKF of overreaching their mandate and interfering with the running of the league over its decision to ‘forcefully’ postpone Saturday’s Mashemeji Derby to allow players to turn out for the national team.
In his ruling, Tribunal chair John Ohaga said that the mandate to run the league which includes postponing fixtures lies with the league managers especially now that the said two friendly games against Swaziland and Equatorial Guinea were outside the FIFA calendar.
He cited the ruling of the same tribunal when the two parties first came in before it on the issue of expanding the league in 2016, where it was ruled that KPL’s mandate to run the league cannot be interfered with.
“If FKF wishes to schedule an international match which requires clubs to release players outside the FIFA dates, this must be on a voluntary basis. If it requires KPL to postpone matches, then this also must be negotiated and agreed between the relevant parties,” Ohaga said in his brief ruling delivered shortly after 6:45pm on Wednesday.
It added; “Outside the formal instruments, no party can impose on the other. It is for this reason that the agreement requires the two to collaborate closely on decisions though the laid out Joint Executive Committee.”
Thus, the ruling meant that KPL was left to decide whether or not the derby would go on, just a few hours after home team AFC Leopards had written to them that they are not able to continue with preparations for the derby asking for postponement.
Later on in the evening, KPL sent a statement to newsrooms saying the derby had been postponed, the most practical thing to do with only two days of preparation left.
Mwendwa in his statement after the ruling has accused KPL and in particular CEO Jack Oguda and Logistics Manager Frank Okoth for failing to have a sportsman’s spirit, saying that clubs had released players for the two friendly games without issue.
“I was well aware this is outside FIFA window and that is why we wrote to KPL asking them to shelve just this one game. We are asking the football community to hold hands together to prepare for Ghana. KPL do not want to be part of the process to build the game at national level, I can’t do anything about it,” said Mwendwa.
He added; “We are trying to prepare for Ghana. We have to make sacrifices. I know our relationship has not been the best but the clubs are happy with us and released players. It is the KPL management which is making these calls. Obviously it is not good for us but it is what it is.”
At the tribunal on Wednesday, the arguments quickly shifted from the initial reason of national team engagement to the security around the Bukhungu Stadium which FKF said is not secure enough for a derby crowd.
However, in his ruling, Ohaga termed it as a faint issue deviating from the main argument, at one point referring to the tussle as a storm in a tea cup.
FKF and their legal team could also not produce written evidence on their opposition to the derby on security issues with Mwendwa saying he had made phone calls on the same to both club chairmen.
-India Four Nation Tournament-
Meanwhile, the Federation chief said the national team’s trip to India for a four-nation tournament will go on despite the fact that KPL have refused to schedule more fixtures. The trip is schedule for June 1-10.
The national team faces the prospect of having a weak team travelling to India with four KPL clubs; Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Kariobangi Sharks and Kakamega Homeboyz who have a significant number in the national team set to take part in the SportPesa Super Cup from June 3.
Mwendwa has now insinuated that the same tournament is in jeopardy as it does not fall within FIFA friendly and will wait to see whether KPL will postpone fixtures for the tournament to be played.
“We are wondering because when it is Hull City or KPL All Stars having friendlies, they postpone games, but when it is the national team, they can’t. Will they postpone games for the four clubs? At this rate, even that tournament might not be played,” added Mwendwa.