FKF-PL Clubs Playing Through Gritted Teeth

Cash-strapped Football Kenya Federation- Premier League (FKF-PL) clubs will not raise the white flag, pledging to scrape the barrel to complete their season.

This follows the collapse of the lucrative sponsorship deal with marketing agent, MP and Silva stoking suggestions member clubs would not honour some or all of their remaining 16 fixtures to wrap the campaign.

The FKF-PL Governing Council convened Thursday in Nairobi despite the meeting being outlawed by federation boss, Sam Nyamweya, to review their position after a two-week notice of action they had issued elapsed.

MP and Silva pulled the plug on the competition in May having paid out USD833,000 (Sh 85,054,851.7) as part of their USD2.5 (Sh255,266,661.77) per annum, five-year deal seeking to renegotiate terms with FKF amid claims of misrepresentation and lack of quality among others.

This in turn left the 18-member clubs struggling to fulfil their match obligations with referees going for a third week with no pay as the national body and the French based firm continue haggling over the deal with a solution nowhere in sight.

Speaking after the meeting, their chairman Nick Mwendwa of Nairobi’s Kariobangi Sharks once again fell short of severing ranks with the federation or declaring the league would stop despite announcing they would not turn to their meagre coffers to continue competing until the end.

“The biggest agenda for us is our sponsorship with Mp and Silva. This is our fourth meeting since we stopped receiving our funds. The bottom line is the sponsor is not willing to disburse funds and we are looking to see what we can do to push them.

“It’s very hard, it affects players, referees, everyone. We have agreed that every club will endeavour to make sure we attend matches and players are taken care of whether sponsor is there or not,” Mwendwa told the press after their meeting.

“The sponsor is of the view they should not do more for us and we are of the view they should do more for us. It’s a back and forth business. The clubs have reiterated we will continue to play as we look for solutions for our financials.

“The sponsor feels what he has paid for now is enough, there was a minimum guarantee in place and we don’t think that is the case according to how things were negotiated. For us, the key thing is while they (federation) discuss with the sponsor, our league should not stop,” he asserted.

– Way forward-

FKF-PL clubs insists they should be involved in discussions on the way forward, accepting they had written to MP and Silva together with the federation and received responses that have failed to unlock the impasse.

As for referees, the clubs resolved to whip around resources to pay for their services insisting it was to uphold the integrity of competition despite the fact its FKF’s duty to settle their dues.

“We want to work with the federation in a way that the rights of the club are taken care of in a better way than before. We have asked to party to negotiations to find a solution, we are not asking to walk away from the federation,” the club’s spokesman explained.

Federation officials failed to turn up for the meeting in a sign of simmering tensions between the clubs and governing body.

“They have chosen not to come, one of the clubs asked not to be here but that does not mean the Governing Council cannot convene. We have agreed five of our Exco members will meet the president on Tuesday as he had asked,” Mwendwa told.

“It’s about pushing further and harder for the agenda. Some things have not been handled in the right way. The deal was a good deal but some of the communication and some circumstances were not right and that should not affect the club.

“We’ve been paid Sh2m before and the suffering has started to get to the clubs. If the payment is not coming, the suffering spreads to even referees and everyone involved,” the Kariobangi Sharks boss told.

Speaking in the sidelines of the meeting, Kakamega Homeboyz chairman, Cleophas Shimanyula, who stepped out before his colleagues told the cost of organising a home match was topping Sh270,000 while for away games; almost double the amount was needed.

“It’s becoming very hard and we are pulling all resources from within to keep our participation going. For example, we have won a good number of matches and we pay each player Sh3,000 as winning bonuses and if you multiply by 18, that is Sh54,000.

“If you add what we give the coach, his assistants and other officials, we are obliged to spend Sh90,000 on that alone, leave alone transport, accommodation, medical and other related expenses,” Shimanyula lamented.

In spite of putting on a brave face, some of the clubs who do not have the muscle of strong corporate or individual financial backing are feeling the pinch, the case of West Sugar failing to travel to Mombasa to play Modern Coast Rangers in a recent fixture a case in point.

For now, the resolve of clubs to spread their scanty finances to try and complete the remaining 16 fixtures of the league is keeping the competition alive but for how long?