NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 15 – Gor Mahia will retain their crown as the 2019-20 Kenyan Premier League champions after the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) threw out the league managers’ appeal over Football Kenya Federation’s (FKF) decision to cancel the season due to COVID-19.
FKF made the decision to cancel the season citing the Force Majeure clause in its football rules due to the stoppages occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, KPL went to the Tribunal seeking to overturn the decision, saying FKF acted out of their jurisdiction in making the decision as the mandate to run the league squarely lay on them.
In his ruling on Tuesday, Tribunal chair John Ohaga ruled that the petition had not been constituted properly as it did not receive necessary approvals from the Governing Council.
“The upshot of the fore-going is that in any event the lack of authority is one that puts spirit to the petition and for that reason the petition is one for dismissing and it is so dismissed,” Ohaga said as he delivered the ruling via Zoom on Tuesday afternoon.
The fact that eight KPL clubs were enjoined in the case as interested candidates and supported the Federation’s decision to end the season looked like the final rope that pulled KPL’s appeal down.
The clubs argued that Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jack Oguda did not have the requisite authority to file a petition on behalf of the league without approval from the Governing Council, which is the body mandated to make decisions on behalf of the league.
“No valid resolution had been made by the Governing Council for the filing of this petition. We have then examined that application and come to the conclusion that the petitioner had an opportunity to rebut the assertion, but the petitioner has not risen up to that and has not sought to rebut the argument that was made. We have therefore come to the conclusion that the petition was filed without proper authority,” Ohaga said in his ruling.
At the same time, Ohaga in his ruling has faulted Oguda and Chemelil Sugar who were petitioners in the case for failing to exhaust all internal dispute resolution mechanisms, despite the existence of the same at the Federation.
“We have recognized the two letters written by the petitioner disputing the announcement by the FKF president and we have come to the conclusion that the petitioner did not properly activate such internal dispute resolution mechanisms which was available for them to do,”
“The Tribunal has previously upheld that the judicial bodies of the FKF are still valid and properly constituted and therefore the internal dispute resolution mechanisms were not exhausted,” Ohaga’s ruling stated.
Further, the tribunal ruled that there was no breach of contract on the side of the Federation as the relationship between the two was a ‘Principal and agent’ relationship hence there was no breach.
“The relationship between FKF and KPL is one of principal and agent and to that extent therefore, we cannot see how the agreement was breached by reason of the president announcing the conclusion of the league,” the ruling further states.
Also, the Tribunal has maintained that Federation boss Nick Mwendwa cannot arbitrarily make decisions that require Executive Committee approval, citing a ruling he made earlier in the year that the NEC ceased to be in office after cancelling the elections for the second time in March.
Ohaga says that the decision to throw out the petition also hinged on their own due diligence in combing through the Federation rule book.
“We have recognized that COVID-19 is a case of Force Majeure and we have looked al all provisions of the rules and the agreement,”
“We have averted to what we said before that the FKF president is not synonymous with FKF and it is our view that the president had no authority to make the determination that he did and that the league was at an end,” Ohaga noted.