2019/20 KPL season still in play, league organizers insist

Just hours after Football Kenya Federations (FKF) had announced on Thursday 30 April that it had cancelled all domestic league campaigns due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) has gone ahead to rebut this, insisting the country’s topflight still remains in play.

Through a communique sent out to media houses on Thursday afternoon and signed by KPL CEO Jack Oguda, the league organizers insist that a cancellation of the league will only be considered if the continent’s football governing body, CAF, issues a directive to have all its members conclude their domestic league campaigns at a specified date.

Fate

The current KPL campaign, which still has 10 rounds to be played, was scheduled to conclude on May 15 and FKF’s decision to cancel all domestic football in the country comes after CAF had written to the federation informing it, that it had eight days to inform CAF on the fate of the 2019/20 season.

“KPL wishes to state that it is strongly against annulling the league at this stage without first exploring other avenues which will see the season played to the end,” part of KPL’s communique reads.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not unique to just Kenya and, therefore, we see no urgency to have the league ended by May 15. We have been in contact with other leagues which are under the jurisdiction of CAF and none is contemplating annulling their league season for now.

No pressure

“Further to that, these leagues and others in other parts of the world are not under pressure from their Federations and Confederations to end their season prematurely since even CAF is yet to complete in CAF competitions for this year.

“It is still too early to consider the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Kenyan football as case of force majeure. If in any case it were so, KPL would stand to be guided by Clause 9.1 of the FKF-KPL Agreement which provides direction on our obligations in the event of a force majeure.

“Ending the league can only be considered as a solution if there has been such a directive from CAF to all its members for the Leagues to end by a certain date. Since CAF has not concluded its own club competitions it therefore makes no sense at all to insinuate that CAF is rushing its members to end their seasons.

“Should such a directive come from CAF, KPL will exercise its mandate to give the way forward to FKF on the fate of the league after convening a Governing Council meeting.”

Accused

The KPL has also accused FKF of selective application of the rules as the Betway FKF Cup has been exempted from cancellation with FKF CEO Barry Otieno being quoted as saying, “All the teams in the FKF BetWay Cup in the competitions have worked hard to reach where they are and it will be unfair to cancel the same.”

KPL now wants the same logic to be used in ensuring the season is concluded in the right manner.

Going by the FKF rules, if the season is cancelled, current leaders Gor Mahia who lead the standings with a seven-point cushion, will be crowned champions with Chemelil Sugar joining disbanded Sony Sugar as the two automatic relegated teams with Kisumu All Stars locked in a relegation playoff battle.

Nairobi City Stars and Bidco United will earn automatic promotion from the National Super League (NSL).