NAIROBI, Kenya- The incident-packed 2017 SportPesa Premier League (SPL) season is set for another twist following the court judgement delivered on Thursday which ruled it should be made up of 16 teams.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) immediately announced their intention to appeal the verdict delivered at Nairobi Milimani Law Courts by High Court judge; Justice John Mativo, who ruled in favour of the petition filed by his predecessor, Sam Nyamweya.
“We wish to clarify that we shall be tendering our appeal at the Court of Appeal in due course in an effort aimed at protecting the sanctity of the sport.
“The federation remains committed to its footballing mission and will not be distracted by the ongoing effort by a section of disgraced former football administrators, keen on suffocating the development of the game at all levels,” a statement from FKF read.
“We shall also be providing an update to FIFA on the judicial development locally as we further seek to tap on their technical capacity in our forth coming Appeal Suit,” it added in reference to the world governing body rules that bar football matters being taken to civilian courts.
Speaking separately to SportPesa News, FKF President accused Nyamweya of sabotaging their efforts of streamlining the management of the game in what appears to be a bruising contest for supremacy between the erstwhile allies turned foes.
“All cases we have are because of the gentleman. It is not just witch hunt. It is someone who is not happy that he is out of football because Kenyans rejected him.
“Every time we make three steps forward, we have to make a few steps backward because of him. But his days will end. He cannot continue to interfere with Kenyan football for long,” Mwendwa scoffed.
The judgement elicited mixed reactions with some hailing the move while others slammed the timing of its delivery arguing it will cause chaos in the SPL if followed.
“This ruling can’t be a reprieve. There are few matches remaining so it can’t be a reprieve because where will the other two teams go? Which criteria will be used to relegate four teams at the end of the season?
“We have to go back to the policy of FKF and KPL which says that two teams should be relegated Once we say that four teams will be relegated the other two (number 15 and 16) will go to court,” Chemelil FC chairman, Robert Nyakundi told this website.
“These are issues that are under the bridge because we had agreed. This will take us another nine months for the court to make a ruling so it is a matter of FKF and KPL to sit down and agree.
“The question here is, in whose interests is Nyamweya acting? He was the first person who championed for 18 teams so he can’t be a pretender. Now that he is out of FKF is when he is running to court. On behalf of who?” the club boss added in slamming the ex-FKF leader.
“The federation has been forcing things and this led to withdrawal of some sponsors. You can see the way clubs are struggling this season.
“Clubs were not prepared for 18 teams. If the court has given a ruling then we have to respect it,” his counterpart at Muhoroni Youth FC, the outspoken Moses Adagala, noted in hailing the judgement.
The SPL basement side’s chairman has been at cross hairs with FKF since winning an appeal against the relegation of his team from the SPL after they were charged by the federation with not meeting the Club Licensing rules threshold.
Recently, FKF gave him a seven-day notice to withdraw a case he has filed at the High Court in Kisumu challenging his 120-day ban from football following club trouble in their home SPL games against Zoo Kericho FC and Nzoia Sugar FC.
In his suit, Nyamweya accused FKF of among others; passing Club Licensing regulations without participation of members and stakeholders in breach of principals of natural justice and failing to honour the Memorandum of Understanding between the federation and KPL for the latter to run SPL.
Nyamweya also cited that on October 14, 2016, the governing body granted interim orders that it would not interfere with KPL affairs and a day later, FKF approved Club Licencing regulations which bordered on the expansion of the league at their Annual General Meeting in contempt of their own directive.
In a 10-page judgement, Justice Mativo agreed Nyamweya “has proved his case to the required standard noting some of the respondents supported the petition save for costs which they urge the court to be paid by the second respondent (FKF).”
“A declaration be and is hereby issued that the Football Kenya Federation- Kenyan Premier League agreement is valid. A permanent injunction be and is hereby issued restraining the second respondent (FKF) from interfering with the third respondent (KPL) rights to manage and own the Kenyan Premier League,” Mativo’s verdict summary read in part.
The judge also invalidated the “unilateral post-season relegation/promotion and additional of clubs by the second respondent (FKF) violated the agreement and also in the sporting principle of merit and is therefore, null and void.”
It means the results of Zoo Kericho FC (14th, 29) and Nakumatt FC (11th, 32) who benefitted from the expansion of the SPL after finishing third and fourth in the 2016 National Super League should not count should the judgment be enforced, in what would be a logistical nightmare of re-tallying the points.
The National Governing Council of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Limited that manages the SPL on behalf of FKF is due to meet on Friday to deliberate the ruling before declaring their next course of action, organisation CEO, Jack Oguda, earlier told SportPesa News.
Mativo’s ruling is the latest saga in a SPL season that has seen as much drama off the pitch as on it in the forced marriage between the federation and KPL which was mutually consummated during the 2007 season in line with recommendations from world governing body FIFA.
Its start was delayed to March 11 after KPL, FKF and some member clubs clashed over its size and composition at the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) before the Mwendwa-led governing body had its way and the competition was increased to 18 teams.
Muhoroni then successfully appealed against their relegation by FKF for not meeting the Club Licensing requirements at the SDT and started their fixtures late after the federation cleared Thika United FC and Sofapaka FC of similar charges.
Before the dust could settle, South African pay television giants, SuperSport, annulled their lucrative broadcast deal alleging breach of contract in a move that cut the major financial supply line funding member teams who are now finding it hard to meet their obligations.
The competition remained off-air until July 4 when Bamba Sports signed a six-month agreement to broadcast at least two SPL games per round worth KSh37m, which while welcome, cannot bridge the gap left by SuperSport.
Besides that, the preparations for the 2018 Africa Home Nations Championships have seen key venues closed with matches being forced to be played at sub-standard pitches.
The costs of playing in the expanded league have crippled the finances of some clubs including Sony Sugar FC, Nakumatt FC and log leaders Gor Mahia FC who have encountered training boycotts in the course of the season.
Ahead of the 2015 SPL season, Nyamweya had attempted to force through an increase of the teams to 18 before the High Court ruled against his favour after he suspended the KPL and instead, promoted a record 14 second-tier sides to the competition he rebranded the FKF-PL.
Controversy and Kenyan club football are not strange bedfellows and Mativo’s judgement is another chapter of a gripping soap opera of management turf wars that have intensified over the last two decades.