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Why Kenya Premier League is facing uncertain future

Last updated 10 months ago | By Rodgers Eshitemi

AFC Leopards FC Fans reacts after losing to Gor Mahia FC at Kasarani Stadium on Saturday 9, 2019. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The Kenyan Premier League (KPL) is in an awkward situation at the moment.

So many teams are in a dire financial situation and are staring at relegation.

Just barely a week ago, 2006 league winners Sony Sugar were relegated from the top flight for failing to honour three league matches.

And the millers are not alone. At the moment, the situation at the two oldest clubs in the country, AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia is not any better as both are facing the same fate.

Ever since betting firm Sportpesa pulled the plug on all its sports sponsorships including football in the country in August following a prolonged tax dispute with the government, things have not been rosy for KPL, Football Kenya Federation, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.

Though the two rivals’ financial constraints are well documented, they have been performing well on the pitch. K’Ogalo are currently sitting at the top of the table standings with 24 points, eight points ahead of ninth-placed Ingwe.

AFC and Gor are facing one of their toughest tests in recent times if reports of a section of their players demanding to be handed release letters over unpaid salaries of up to four months is anything to go by.

At Gor Mahia, defender Maurice Ojwang has tabled a demand notice to leave the club, while the trio of Whyvonne Isuza, Tresor Ndikumana and Vincent Abamahoro have all put Leopards on red alert.  

AFC field captain Soter Kayumba has been conspicuously missing since the Mashemeji derby.

What Gor and AFC are going through is a true reflection of the state of most clubs.

While Gor management have committed to pay part of the players’ salary arrears in the coming few days, the situation is worse at AFC Leopards’ den.

With a monthly wage bill of Sh4.2 million, but without a sponsor, Leopards chairman Dan Shikanda has admitted the club could fail to honour tomorrow’s away match against Nzoia Sugar in Mumias.

“There is nothing to hide anymore. Things are not rosy at all, but we are working around the clock to turn them around. We urgently we need Sh20 million to sort out our salary arrears and rent arrears for three houses (coach, office and two players),” Shikanda told Standard Sports.

“We have been talking to a number of potential sponsors, all of them are promising but nothing has happened yet.”

Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier weighed into the matter and said; “It is a tough situation but we’ve talked to the players as we continue engaging different sponsors.”

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