League fixtures won’t be suspended, but we need a way forward on financial rut

Wednesday March 18 2020

Well, the Kenyan Premier League will go on as scheduled. The decision was arrived at after a meeting of the KPL Governing Council. We expected the outcome since the few clubs that wanted it suspended were not going to see the light of the day.

Even though they seem to have lost their bid, we must respect the reasonableness of their stand. They just do not have money to honour their obligations in the prevailing chaotic economic conditions.

They have no sponsors and even the KPL itself lacks money. There is no title sponsor and it seems the season is bound to end in the same way; poverty!

Sofapaka boss Elly Kalekwa was hard-hitting when he mercilessly posed: “How did they get licenses to run their clubs if they can’t have cash to attend all the games in a season? Which sponsor will ever

come on board if we stop the league whenever certain clubs have no money? And if the league is stopped it means the players’ contracts end immediately, which is impossible.”

That was a salutary observation. The only fear is that there shall be more walkovers handed in the season; and that too has its pitfalls. The league rules are that any team that dishes out three walkovers is to be chucked out. In the end, we may only have a handful of teams left and thus, we shall have set a new world record for incompetence and shoddiness. We stand the risk of being rated the most shameful league ever in the world.

The league shall not be suspended. That was the verdict, but the Governing Council did not specify how we shall wriggle out of this mess. The communique from the Kenyan Premier League boss Jack Oguda sounded like an eulogy. It stated the obvious, and prayed for better things to come. Oguda informed us that there isn’t much that can be done except to soldier on without any assurance.

He begged the government and specifically the PS State Department of Sports, Ministry of Sports, Culture & Heritage to fast-track the completion of Nyayo National Stadium, which he said is the best arena to showcase the league.

We are afraid that this appeal will fall on deaf ears. They need flappers to touch their ears so that they can at least remember that stadium and many others. We must remember that they have paid a lot of lip service on this issue and every Cabinet Secretary that is appointed to the sports docket visits Nyayo Stadium promising its completion, which turns out to be hot air.

It is the government that sent the sponsors of the league packing. It is still the government that must clean this mess. The only way forward is in the hands of the government.

We must support the communique from KPL especially where it appeals thus: “We would like to formally plead with the Government to step in and provide a short-term financial solution to facilitate the running of the league. Notably, some teams are actually struggling to honour both their local and international matches whilst players and officials risk losing their employment”

There is no more to add. The ball is in the government’s court.