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Dennis Gicheru of Wazito FC and Coast Stima's Abbas Muhiddin battle for the ball in a recent match. [ Photo / The Star ]

Kenya Power has found itself in a rare controversy with a community organisation over the ownership of a football team in Mombasa. According to documents, Kenya Power signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to have its team, Coast Stima, merge with Coast United F.C in 2014.

Before the two teams entered into a merger, Coast United was participating in the National Division One League while Coast Stima was playing in the lower provincial division. The merger was to enable Kenya Power to have a football team in the top league in the Coast region similar to Nairobi Stima and Western Stima.

The documents show Kenya Power was to provide financial sponsorship and take charge of the management, while Coast United would be responsible for the technical bench. Among the original officials of the merged team were Robert Mahaga (patron), Kenya Power Regional Manager (chairman), Ali Hassan vice-chairman), Christopher Ayieko (treasurer), David Kambe (secretary) and Yahya Hassan (technical director).

However, the four-year merger started showing cracks when the club kicked Hassan from the technical bench last year and Kenya Power terminated the MoU altogether through a letter written to Coast United chairman, dated July 19, 2019.

 Part of the letter signed by the current Coast Stima F.C. Secretary Lawrence Sakwa stated: “The management of Coast Stima F.C., after serious consideration and further to our joint consultative meeting held on 25th June, 2019 in reference to Clause 2 & 3 of the MoU dated 26th June 2014 and signed on 1st July 2014 wish to bring to your notice the termination of MoU.”

 This has elicited sharp reactions from officials of Coast United F.C. who accused Kenya Power of terminating the MoU without following the proper procedures. “We will not allow a corporate organization to use its financial muscles to grab our team which we built from the scratch and dedicated huge resources to,” said Coast United vice-chairman Ismail Mohamed during a press conference on Tuesday at Tudor Sports Club in Mombasa.

Officials of Coast United F.C during a press conference at Tudor Sports Club in Mombasa on Tuesday, August 20, 2019. [ Photo: Mohamed Hassan / KNA)

Mr Ismail vowed to use all sporting and legal channels to reclaim their team, saying the action taken by Kenya Power negates efforts to promote football in the country. He was accompanied by other officials, including Ali Hassan (chairman) and Khamis Baghazal (technical advisor). He said they feel duped by KPLC and that they have written to the national office of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) to intervene.

FKF Acting Chief Executive Officer Barry Otieno confirmed that the Club had written to the body, saying the matter will soon be heard by the Arbitration Committee.

It’s true we had an MoU with Coast United but we have terminated

David Opiyo, Coast Stima FC chairman

In a letter signed on 7th August 2019, Otieno said: “We acknowledge that a case between your club and Coast Stima F.C. has been brought to our attention and we have initiated the process of constituting an arbitration committee to arbitrate on this sensitive matter.”

During the press conference, Coast United officials challenged Coast Stima to provide evidence, including fixtures, to show how they climbed the ladder from provincial league to the Division One. “We want our team back and we have already secured a sponsor. Coast Stima can go ahead and form their team and start playing from lower divisions,” added the officials.

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 They threatened to take legal action and also demanded the exclusion of Coast Stima from further engagements until the matter is heard and determined. However, Coast Stima F.C. Chairman David Opiyo dismissed the allegations saying MoU was terminated within the stipulated conditions.

“It’s true we had an MoU with Coast United but we have terminated it because of several reasons including unrealistic demands towards running of Coast Stima F.C.,” he said.

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