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‘Daily Nation’: Shameful, unsustainable Kenyan Premier League that’s oblivious to player welfare

NAIROBI, April 29, 2019 – By Moses Ojuang’: THE 18-team Kenyan Premier League was a curse right from its inception. It was bulldozed by two managements of Football Kenya Federation after some court cases.

We complained about it in these pages but even the gods of football in this country — with their shrill voices — must by now know that it was ill advised.

Machackos against AFC Leopards are now too broke to survive in the Kenyan Premier League. TOP: Bandari (red) and AFC Leopards in their last match in Machackos

Above: Mt Kenya United (left) in action at the Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos against AFC Leopards are now too broke to survive in the Kenyan Premier League. TOP: Bandari (red) and AFC Leopards in their last match in Machakos

They got what they wanted and their egos were duly massaged but the ramifications of their actions seem not to be haunting them since they clearly have no conscience. Let them dine and sleep well.

That change led to the exit of SuperSport and the KPL matches are now almost a secret! The following of Kenyan football is dwindling but the sopranos had this to say: “The players who do not get their pay at all or their payment is delayed are not saying stop the football.

“They are saying; I’m playing to be seen and to get a chance to play for teams such as Al Ahly tomorrow. It is not the payment of salaries that makes football be played.”

Playing at empty, poor grounds generating no income is the everyday thing even for big clubs such as Tusker (left) and multi-time champions Gor Mahia

Playing at empty, poor grounds generating no income is the everyday thing even for big clubs such as Tusker (left) and multi-time champions Gor Mahia

It comes as no surprise that the first team to forfeit a match in the KPL is Mount Kenya United Football Club. The boys staged a serious sit-in when they were supposed to play Gor Mahia in a midweek clash a few days ago.

There are those behind club/KPL/FKF management who place all blame on the players. One brazen fellow even asks for the sacking of all players and institute others willing to do service even though he does not consider the plight of the players and the conditions they are exposed to in their work!

There is another band that seeks to solve the problem by blaming the 18-team league and the expenses that teams have to contend with. My heart is with them during this depressing period.

Football Kenya Federation head Nicholas Mwendwa, centre, holding Press conference at Moi International Sports Centre overseeing commercially unviable football in the country

Football Kenya Federation head Nicholas Mwendwa, centre, holding Press conference at Moi International Sports Centre overseeing commercially unviable football in the country

Recently we read something penned by the head of Sofapaka Football Club. He raised issues of financing teams in the top-tier league and the amount it costs to host only home matches ‘sans’ [without] the travel and other expenses associated with away games.

It makes a mockery of what most Kenyans think. It costs close to some Sh300,000 to cater for a home match. Playing away is another matter altogether.

The amount of sponsorship cash given to clubs from the KPL and its sponsors can only cater for very minimal expenses. Most of the teams cannot rely on gate collections and that includes big teams with a big following.

Latest standings, 2019 Kenyan Premier League

Latest standings, 2019 Kenyan Premier League

Those manning the gates for this outfits are growing very shocking bellies and if any changes are made, their tummies and their haram eating children will suffer. They must also keep living somehow.

“When I started [Kariobangi] Sharks and for the years I ran the team, I could not pay salaries until 2013; I could only give them a token to play. Patillah Omotto, for example, would never have played for the national team,” says Nicholas Mwendwa, owner of Sharks and head of the FKF.

We now have it from the horse’s mouth. What can the [Kenya Government] Ministry of Sports do to solve this problem? What is the Sports Fund for? My heart goes to those players whose rented houses are now locked! Sad!

MOSES OJUANG’ writes weekly football commentary for ‘Daily Nation’

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