Tribunal to make KPL expansion ruling public on January 10
Football stakeholders will have to wait until January 10 for the public ruling of the Sports Dispute Tribunal over the composition of the 2017 Kenyan Premier League (KPL).
In November, KPL Limited- the company that manages the country’s top division- moved to the Tribunal to lodge a case against Football Kenya Federation (FKF) that is seeking to expand the top flight from 16 to 18 teams.
Initially, the John Ohaga-led Tribunal adjourned the matter to November 22 before giving both parties time to resolve their long running dispute a week later but Citizen Digital learned Friday the ruling will be delivered on the second week of January.
FKF lodged their responding affidavit at the Tribunal to counter KPL despite world governing body FIFA through a letter sent to federation president, Nick Mwendwa, advocating for an 18-team top flight and the case to be withdrawn days after it was lodged.
“All will have been concluded by 10th for the verdict to be given. Hopefully teams will have enough time to prepare for the season that begins in February. Both parties have submitted to us, FKF led by president Mwendwa and KPL by the outgoing chairman Ambrose Rachier,” a Tribunal official confirmed.
When contacted Mwendwa remained non-committal on the impact of the announcement.
“We cannot start analyzing the impact when the case is before the tribunal. We have to wait and work with the timelines they have given,” the previous chairman of Kariobangi Sharks added.
Talks brokered by Mwendwa failed to resolve the impasse last month with the federation boss saying during the December 10 2016 KPL Footballer of the Year Awards a lasting solution would be found in a fortnight, a period that has elapsed.
The second tier National Super League (NSL) top four finishers from last season- Nzoia Sugar FC, Kariobangi Sharks FC, Zoo Kericho FC and Nakumatt FC- are in an anxious wait to take their place in the KPL should the 18-team competition suffice.
Similarly, according to former FKF boss Sam Nyamweya, the bottom two NSL sides-Ligi Ndogo and Shabana FC will not be relegated to the third division while Ushuru FC and Nairobi City Stars FC who propped the rear in the 2016 KPL are also keeping tabs on the developing situation.
In 2014, a similar dispute that saw Nyamweya suspend the KPL for two weeks and promote a record 14 teams to the top flight led to mediation brokered by FIFA and the Government that saw no team relegated from the top division and the rival FKF-PL designated as the second tier.
When Mwendwa took office in February, he re-branded the FKF-PL which he chaired in 2014 the NSL, pledging to see through the expansion of the KPL.
Similarly, it remains to be seen whether the KPL clubs that have not fulfilled the new licencing requirements pushed by continental body CAF will be relegated on January 4.
Only seven have managed to acquire the licenses according to information in the public.
KPL is resisting expansion arguing the quality of the competition that is struggling to match the standards of the best in the continent will be compromised further and the financial burden on clubs will be heightened by the increased fixtures.
Critics aver their opposition to expansion is purely driven by resistance to share monies from existing lucrative title and broadcast sponsorship deals with more clubs to retain control of a larger budget.
Mwendwa has gone as far as suggesting the federation will anchor the extra teams until new title and broadcast deals are negotiated in 2018 at the earliest.
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