Kenya’s two biggest clubs, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards alongside government-backed Posta Rangers have joined forces to call for the country’s top-flight league to be run by an independent body similar to the Kenya Premier League (KPL) Limited whose five year mandate expired in September 2020.
Gor and AFC chairmen Ambrose Rachier and Dan Shikanda threw the weight of their clubs behind the CS Amina Mohammed-led Ministry of Sports which last week appointed a caretaker committee to run affairs of Kenyan football for a six-month period, and to pave way for elections of new leadership at the Football Kenya Federation (FKF). FKF President Nick Mwendwa was arrested and arraigned in court on corruption-related charges and is accused of siphoning millions from FKF coffers.
After the expiry of the agreement with KPL Limited, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) took over the management of the league which was renamed the FKF-Premier League (FKF-PL). Its title sponsor Betking pulled out after the first season. Broadcast partners StarTimes and Milele FM are the league’s only sponsors at present.
Aside from new comments by Shikanda, Rachier and Posta Rangers Chairman John Tonui, speculation that KPL Limited could be positioning itself for a return as managers of the top-flight is being driven by the appointment of former Harambee Stars international Taiwo Atieno as their Commercial Director.
Taiwo’s appointment was confirmed on Thursday, November 11 – the same day Amina announced the appointment of the caretaker committee. His brief includes securing investment in local clubs, youth training facilities and stadia.
“We can take the KPL model which was working very well. A committee made by the club’s chairmen should be the one running the league and it should include the referees’ body. It will help bring to an end poor officiating which is a big problem in the league,” argued Shikanda.
While also pushing for the KPL model, Tonui asked the caretaker committee to ensure the league resumed in two weeks as promised to avoid Kenya lagging behind in the international football calendar.
“We want an independent league run by an independent body like the way KPL was doing. The league should be devoid of any interference from FKF even though we align with their structures,” Tonui stated.
Rachier highlighted the clashes pitting clubs vs federation that characterized the Nick Mwendwa era.
The two clubs in July boycotted a league ‘Mashemeji’ derby in protest as they demanded the release of Ksh10 million prize money for the Betway Cup from FKF. Notably, the two Chairmen were also barred from engaging in any federation activities.
“The caretaker committee should consider outsourcing a body to run the league professionally, so that clubs can have a way of participating in decision making. Under FKF, no voice was heard thus the strained relationship,” Rachier stated.