Sofapaka, Muhoroni reinstated to the KPL by Tribunal
The Sports Dispute Tribunal has ordered the reinstatement of Sofapaka FC and Muhoroni Youth FC to the 2017 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and nullified the decision made by the Football Kenya Federation to relegate the two clubs from the top flight.
When delivering the ruling in Nairobi on Wednesday afternoon, Tribunal chairman John Ohaga, said they found the grading manual used by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) to determine clubs that passed the CAF club licensing requirements to be defective.
First to be reinstated were the 2009 champions, Batoto ba Mungu and minutes later, Ohaga also overturned the relegation of Muhoroni hopefully ending a saga that has gripped local football since the start of the year.
“We have in any event found that the manual is defective in material respects which must be rectified before it coul properly be used as the basis for undertaking the licensing process. We have also reached the conclusion that the Appeals body established under the FKF Club Licensing regulation is inoperative.
“Sofapaka has told the tribunal it ranked 14th in the 2016 KPL season, participated in the league for a considerable period and has attracted a significant following in terms of its fan base whose aspirations and expectations led these fans to institute a constitutional petition in the High Court at Kisumu.
“As a result, we have reached the conclusion that the justice of the case requires that we sustain Sofapaka’s continuing participation in the KPL and we accordingly order that Sofapaka be reinstated.
“The effect of this decsion is to nullify the decision of FKF top promote Vihiga United and the KCB FC from the NSL to the KPL for the 2017 season,” Ohaga ruled.
The rulings were a stinging defeat for FKF President, Nick Mwendwa, who is in Addis Ababa for the 39th General Congress of the Confederation of African Football in his effort to rein on the perceived excesses of the league management body.
“We are happy the ruling of the Tribunal and the way they dissected the manual of the club licensing that they found defective. Its time for FKF to come up with a fool proof manual that will be acceptable by all stakeholders on licensing in accordance with the rules of FIFA and CAF,” KPL CEO, Jack Oguda told Citizen Digital moments after the landmark ruling.
Oguda announced that although reinstated, Sofapaka and Muhoroni will not be expected to field in their opening fixtures of the 2017 KPL season just yet.
“We cannot say they will definitely play their first games this weekend. We have to ask them if they are ready to start and if not, we shall give them sometime to be ready,” the KPL boss added.
The Tribunal also established that the FKF’s first instance body (committee on CAF club licensing led by Prof Edwin Wamukoya) and it’s Appeals Committee are independent of each other owing to the fact they are both a creation of FKF.
“Thus, according to the Sports Act of 2013, any appeal would then most likely have been easily compromised,” Ohaga stated.
Following the development, Muhoroni Youth FC lawyer, Jimmy Simiyu, immediately sought for the club that had also been relegated to the National Super League (NSL) on the same grounds as Sofapaka to be returned to the top flight.
“In this regard, with the Tribunal having found significant defective measures in the manual adopted by FKF, Muhoroni should also be reinstated,” Simiyu prayed.
“Indeed, with the Tribunal having based it’s initial decision to reinstate Sofapaka on the fact the manual was defective, I have ordered the reinstatement of Muhoroni Youth to the KPL,” Ohaga responded.
The tribulations for Sofapaka and Muhoroni started on January 9 when Mwendwa announced that three top flight clubs that also included Thika United had been axed from the 2017 KPL for failing to meet licensing requirements in conformity with CAF and FIFA regulations.
At the time, Mwendwa declared the affected teams had been demoted to the 2017 NSL and gave them 14 days to appeal, an option the sides that finished 10th, 12th and 14th in that order in the 2016 KPL exercised.
“According to the rules spelt out in the FKF licensing manual, the teams have recourse to appeal the decision begore the FKF Appeals Committee and further, to CAF,” Mwendwa proclaimed at the time.
He was fulfilling the threat to purge on the teams that failed the club licensing threshold, a crackdown that came at the time when FKF and KPL were embroiled in a bitter feud over whether to have a topflight of 16 or 18 teams.
On February 2, Sofapaka and Muhoroni had their appeals to be reinstated rejected by the federation with Thika succeeding in petitioning against their case.
“Sofapaka had issues with proving they had enough finances to sustain them through the league and meet the wages of their players including arrears. They have not been able to do that, so they are relegated,” Mwendwa declared at a press conference held at Kasarani’s Goal Project.
Muhoroni were cited on allegations of failing to pay past and present players besides failing to convince the Licensing Body they also had enough money to complete a season after a campaign of unrest last year.
Outspoken Muhoroni chairman, Moses Adagala, labelled the decision to axe the team as a witch hunt and a calculated scheme by Mwendwa to gain the upper hand in his power battle with the KPL.
Sofapaka and Muhoroni then lodged their cases at the Tribunal and last Friday, the former attempted to obtain an injunction at the High Court stopping the start of the 2017 KPL last weekend.
Both the KPL and NSL that kicked-off a week earlier started the campaign without two teams since the Tribunal’s ruling affects four clubs.
FKF promoted Vihiga United and KCB FC who finished fifth and sixth in the 2016 NSL to the top flight but they could not take their places pending the outcome of the ruling, meaning the first and second divisions started without two teams apiece.
Speaking to Citizen Digital last week, Mwendwa pledged to uphold the verdict of the Sports Tribunal regarding the matter.
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