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FKF dealt blow as Sports Disputes Tribunal reinstates Zoo FC

FOOTBALL By Waweru Titus and Robert Abong'o | December 17th 2020

Victor Ndinya (L) of Wazito FC vies for the ball with Murabwa Matini of Zoo Kericho FC during their Kenya Premier League match at Kenyatta stadium in Machakos on March 01, 2020. Wazito FC won 4-1. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) suffered a major blow on Thursday, December 17 after the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) reinstated Zoo FC into the FKF Premier League.

The Nick Mwendwa-led federation expelled Zoo FC from the league due to their refusal to be part of a broadcasting rights deal that FKF signed with StarTimes.

Zoo moved to SDT to obtain orders to be restored back into the league as the 2020/21 season continues.

“That this application be and is hereby certified urgent and be considered ex-parte, inter partes, in the first instance due to the urgent nature of the reliefs sought,” part of the SDT order to FKF decision read, as obtained by The Standard Sport.

Sofapaka midfielder Elly Asieche in action against Zoo FC during their Kenya Premier League match at Kenyatta stadium in Machakos on January 27, 2019. Sofapaka FC won 3-2. [Stafford Ondego]

 “That pending the hearing and determination of this application inter partes, conservatory orders be and are hereby issued staying the decision of the respondent’s National Executive Committee of 9th December 2020 suspending the petitioner from all footballing activities for failing to endorse the media rights and commercial rights agreement between the respondent and StarTimes Media (Kenya) Co. Ltd of 29th September 2020.

"That the costs of this application are reserved," the order concludes.

Gor Mahia Football Club, Ulinzi Football Club, XXCELAFRICA LTD and the Kenya Premier League (KPL) were listed as interested parties.

Mathare United and Zoo FC were both suspended from the FKF-Premier League last week.

In an FKF press statement seen by Standard Sports, the two were given 48 hours to salvage their stay in the top-flight if they move to sign the broadcast deal between FKF and StarTimes.

The decision was made at the end of Wednesday’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.

According to FKF president Mwendwa, failure for them to sign the agreement would lead to their expulsion from the top tier league which entered its third week last weekend.

“We have been very patient with the two clubs and done our best to convince them to meet their obligations in order to preserve the commercial rights of the league.”

“While the other clubs have given us their endorsements, the two have declined to do so as the league enters matchday three. The league cannot continue without the two clubs meeting their obligations,” read the statement.

Zoo and Mathare refused to sign an undertaking to surrender the broadcast rights deal to FKF with the club chairmen Ken Ochieng and Bob Munro insisting the clubs own these rights.

The two clubs were given until Friday 11 December, 5 pm to sign the endorsement, failure to which the matter would be referred to the federation’s General Congress, in February 2021.

Ulinzi Stars were given until Monday, December 14, failure to which they would be suspended from the top league.

FKF President-elect Nick Mwendwa flanked by branch officials briefing journalists after he was announced the winner during the National FKF elections at Hotel Safari Park in Nairobi on Oct 17, 2020. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

“The NEC considered the case of Ulinzi and noted that being a military team, they require certain processes to be followed. In that regard, we have given them until Monday at 5 pm to sign the endorsement.

“Failure to do that will result in them being suspended from the top league,” added the FKF president.

He assured players from the three teams that they will be accorded a provisional window of 15 days to sign for other clubs, should their clubs fail to meet their respective deadlines.

At the same time, the FKF president said disciplinary proceedings will be opened against Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier for bringing the game into disrepute.

Rachier wrote a letter to StarTimes withdrawing a letter the club’s Secretary General had written to FKF endorsing the broadcast deal.

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