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Mixed reactions on plans to resume local league action

Last updated 1 month ago | By Washington Onyango

Mathare United FC Lennox Ogutu (left) and Promise Chinonso during KPL match at Kenyatta Stadium on Sunday, Feb 2, 2020. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The announcement by Kenyan Premier League management that it plans to start the league has elicited mixed reactions from football clubs.

KPL plans to resume the league once they get the go ahead from the government despite the Football Kenya Federation's (FKF) decision to end the 2019/20 season.

If a decision is made and the league resumes, KPL has to ensure all clubs adhere to the new Fifa measures.

Fifa released regulations on how football activities should resume in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and KPL has circulated the same to all clubs urging them to familiarise with the protocols.

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The decision has been met with a lot of resistance from Kisumu All Stars and Western Stima management.

All Stars CEO Nicholas Ochieng said they are not ready financially and physically after releasing all the players following FKF's communication that the season was over.

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“We received communication from FKF that the league is over and we followed the directive and released all the players until further notice.

“Financially we cannot. Most of the new Fifa rules all clubs will have to adhere to means money which for us, a county government-sponsored club, has to be budgeted for and approved at the beginning of the season,” he said.

“For now we are focusing on our KPL playoff battle against Vihiga United and until we receive any communication from FKF, the season for us is over,” Ochieng said.

Western Stima boss Laban Jobita said it would be impossible for clubs to play within the short period and will need about two months to prepare. He said KPL should consider the financial implications before making the decision.

“We budgeted for the season from August last year to June. Most contracts have or will expire in the next few days and to come up with a competitive team now will be hard.

“We have to recruit, train amid health fears which most of the clubs cannot afford with the financial constraints clubs already have,” he said.

However, other clubs led by AFC Leopards, Kakamega Homeboyz, Bandari and Wazito say they are ready to resume.

Kakamega Homeboyz's Bernard Shitiabayi said they were already putting up measures to adhere to the Fifa new laws.

“We are title contenders and we are more than ready to fight to the end. We are sorting out every guideline issued by Fifa and we are ready to implement the same to our players in matters to do with Covid-19 prevention and health status of the team,” he said.

AFC Leopards chairman Dan Shikanda proposed usage of home and away jerseys to clubs facing financial implications in order to adhere to rule of players changing their shirts at halftime.

“Clubs can agree between one another before the match to use home and away jerseys in between the break to meet the new rule.

“However, for the status of the league, we wish the KPL to also involve all the 18 clubs in making a final decision that will be uniform and unanimous with everyone considering the financial constraints the league and clubs already have even before the wake of the pandemic," Shikanda said.

The same goes to Bandari CEO Edward Oduor and Wazito CEO Dennis Gicheru who all said they will welcome any decision made by the league body.

The league was supposed to end on May 23 but was suspended in March with less than ten rounds of matches to play, as a measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus.