NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 24 – Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia have suspended Secretary General Sam Ochola for going behind the Executive Committee’s backs to sign an endorsement letter for the Football Kenya Federation and StarTimes broadcast deal.
Gor is among several clubs which have rejected the broadcast agreement between the Federation and the Chinese broadcast giants which is set to run for the next seven years.
In a fiery statement on Tuesday evening, chairman Ambrose Rachier said that Ochola signed an endorsement letter that would bind the club to the deal, despite the Executive Committee’s stand.
“This morning, by whatever means employed, they (FKF) procured our Secretary General to purport to issue to StarTimes an endorsement of the agreement which all members of the Executive Committee have recanted and I have a letter signed by all members addressed to StarTimes telling them the letter is of no legal effect and should not be relied on as a basis for any contractual rights,” Rachier said in a statement on Tuesday evening.
He added; “Mr Ochola very well knowing this proceeded to write an endorsement letter to StarTimes to purport to give away our rights and then went underground. If he was man enough he would have told me ‘here I am I have signed the letter.’ A very cowardly act.”
“Disciplinary action has been taken against the errant Secretary General and I have already briefed the club patron Hon Raila Amolo Odinga of these happenings. We have suspended the SG pending further disciplinary action. As a lawyer, I believe in the right to be heard. We will hear him before we take any more drastic action,” Rachier further stated.
However in a rejoinder, FKF boss Nick Mwendwa has insisted that the letter signed by Ochola is legitimate and will move ahead with it to allow StarTimes film Gor Mahia matches.
Mwendwa told Capital Sport; “The legally elected Secretary General wrote us an endorsement letter and we have forwarded the same to StarTimes. Whatever they (Gor) are now saying, we don’t understand. What we know is we have a consent from the club and that is what we are going with.”
“So far, only three clubs have not signed and we have written to them and given them 24 hours to sign, if not, I will go back to the Executive Committee and we will make a decision on the way forward,” further stated Mwendwa.
Gor Mahia has been vocal about their opposition to the new top tier broadcast deal with StarTimes with Rachier clearly stating that he cannot a sign a deal that he has not seen.
He also states that the Federation does not have Locus Standi to sign any broadcast agreement on behalf of the clubs, saying this is the sole responsibility of each of the 18 Kenyan premier League teams.
“Article 81 of the FKF constitution does not confer such rights to the Federation over the broadcast rights of any club. It is for this reason that FKF has been cajoling, coercing and blackmailing KPL clubs into endorsing such rights to StarTimes,” Rachier said, before accusing the Federation of blackmailing clubs to endorse the deal.
“We are not ignorant to sign documents we have not had sight of,” Rachier added.
He says he is ready to go to the negotiating table with the Federation and adds that 10 other Premier League clubs bear the same sentiments. He says they had a meeting with seven clubs on Monday with four proxies and all were in agreement that they will not sign the seven year contract.
“I asked for a copy of the contract and there was no response. When the Federation signed a deal with BetKing, I wanted to see it and they gave it to me. When I read and found nothing conflicting with my contract with Betsfae, I signed.”
“We don’t dispute the Federation’s authority to run the league but they have no rights to sell my club rights without the authority of the club. They have looked for it, which was denied and they have now resorted to underhand tactics to procure the signature,” a furious Rachier stated.
Moving forward, he says clubs will only sign the deal when they are involved and are also made to understand the details of the contract.