Mwendwa remains firm on KPL expansion, license deadline

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa makes his speech during the Kenyan Premier League 2016 ...
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa makes his speech during the Kenyan Premier League 2016 awards in Nairobi on December 13, 2016. Photo/Stafford Ondego/

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa has vowed to bring an end to the raging league expansion feud between the local governing body and the Kenyan Premier League Limited within a fortnight.

Speaking during the 2016 KPL Awards Gala held on Tuesday night, Mwendwa remained firm in his push to have four teams promoted from the second-tier National Super League (NSL) while upholding the relegation of two teams from the top flight.

Owing to his association with Kariobangi Sharks whose remarkable second leg performance in the NSL saw them secure an automatic promotion berth for the 2017 KPL, there were suggestions Mwendwa would beat a retreat in the 16 versus 18 debate but he stuck to his February pledge of moving to expand the top division.

“This is a war that we have been fighting for the last three years and I want to promise you it’s about to come to an end. When I was Chairman at Sharks, we tried to push for the same to no avail and when I made the decision to join the FKF presidential race many people just laughed me off.

“I recognize the efforts KPL have made in bringing our league this far and I want to assure them that we’re not after taking their control of the league. We just want some things put straight and this is one which we want settled as soon as possible,” Mwendwa reiterated during his speech.

In their resistance, KPL maintain adding two teams to the top flight will be cost inhibiting with the 16 member teams who are equal shareholders resisting the idea of sharing revenues accruing to title and broadcast rights beyond the current deals.

The FKF boss also took a firm stance on the Confederation of African Football (CAF) club licensing as he stood by his promise to relegate clubs that will not have complied to its requirements by December 31 to lower leagues.

According to FKF, only Tusker FC, Ulinzi Stars and National Super League side Wazito FC have obtained the CAF license making them the only clubs eligible to ply their trade in the country’s leagues out of the total of 36 teams that feature in the divisions.

In his report on the matter last week, Mwendwa clarified that AFC Leopards, Chemelil Sugar, Gor Mahia FC, Kakamega Homeboyz, Sony Sugar, Thika United, Palos FC, Sharks, KCB, Nakumatt FC, Zoo Kericho FC and Posta Rangers had begun making the necessary steps to ensure they are compliant.

“This is a very serious matter that we’ve been postponing for the last three months but now our time is up. Kenyans should be able to forgive me if in the end, our league is made up of only five teams because I won’t care as long as they’re the only ones compliant,” he warned.

In response to claims that the league’s title sponsors are using their financial muscle to bully smaller companies out of the KPL, Mwendwa invited broader investment into the league while stating he foresaw a future where there was no sole title sponsor.

He said he drew inspiration from the English Premier League (EPL) which chose not to renew their contract with title sponsor Barclays when their deal expired earlier this year.

It is however, still a far cry considering the crazy viewership numbers and way better quality that have seen them attract billions of pounds from TV rights.

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Story By Matthews Mutai
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