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Beleaguered KPL determined to finish season despite FKF cancellation

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 4 – Even before a case at the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) over Football Kenya Federation’s decision to end the season is heard and determined, the Kenyan Premier League management will convene a Governing Council meeting next week to draw out a plan for football resumption.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed earlier this week stated that the Ministry has put up a team to look at possibilities of resuming sports in the country and it will be headed by Principal Secretary Joe Okudo.

But, their recommendations will only be based on directives from the Ministry of Health over the safety of resuming sports activities and public gatherings.

Kenyan Premier League (KPL) went to the Tribunal after FKF’s decision to call an end to the season and declare Gor Mahia champions over the COVID-19 pandemic which has halted football all over the world.

“A KPL Governing Council meeting will be convened next week depending on the new measures that the Government will announce to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic following the lapse of the 21-day nationwide curfew and cessation of movements in certain counties and local administrative areas on Saturday,” KPL said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to make an announcement over the state of the nationwide curfew as well as rules on cessation of movement in and out of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale and Mandera counties.

-Financial difficulties

It is still to be seen how the league managers plan to end the season, especially bearing in mind their financial difficulties even before the season was halted.

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KPL passed down the responsibility of paying referees to clubs while they are yet to pay out the league winning prize money to Gor Mahia for their triumph last season.

Looking at the protocols put out by FIFA for football to return worldwide, it will be an interesting watch to see if the financially struggling KPL clubs will be able to implement.

According to the FIFA guidelines, social distancing is expected to be maintained on travels and accommodation while all players and personnel are expected to be tested regularly. On travels, it would essentially mean that clubs will be expected to have at least two buses to attend matches.

-Not share hotel rooms

Players will also not be able to share hotel rooms as has been the norm before. Also under FIFA’s guidelines, players are expected to change their uniforms at half time.

With clubs already struggling to pay player salaries, the cost of testing, which will definitely fall on their quarters will be an additional financial burden on the teams.

On Wednesday, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) boss Nick Mwendwa announced they will be waiting for government directives before announcing a roadmap for return to football in anticipation for next season.

The only African league which has continued at this period is Burundi which is set to conclude their campaign next month while Tanzania will resume on June 14.

Tunisia and South Africa have also started plans for resumption. Most leagues in Africa have either been annulled without champions or mid-season league standings used to name champions, like it happened in Uganda.

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