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With sports suspended, clubs prepare for tough times

FOOTBALL By Rodgers Eshitemi | March 29th 2021
Nairobi City Stars’ Captain Anthony Kimani and Christopher Oruchum (left) of Tusker FC during an FKF Premier League clash at Utali Grounds on Saturday, March 20, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Though it might be a bit premature, it seems President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent directive to indefinitely suspend all sporting activities in the country has thrown the 2020/2021 FKF Premier League season’s conclusion into a state of disarray.

The president made the announcement on Friday with the halting of sporting activities as one of the precautionary measures against the spread of the deadly Covid-19 that is ravaging the world.

The executive order came alongside other stringent measures like curbing movement and indefinite extension of night curfew. Nairobi County and four surrounding counties; Kiambu, Machakos, Nakuru and Kajiado have all been put under lockdown until further notice.

But even as the directive came just when the league was taking shape with each team having played at least 14 matches (three less than halfway mark) behind closed doors and in adherence to the Covid-19 protocols, it is the players who will be the hardest hit.

With no hope of any income in terms of salaries, match allowances/bonuses and training allowances, the majority of the players and their families have once again been left in a desperate situation.

Tusker are currently at the top of the table with 36 points from 16 games, six points ahead of second-placed KCB and seven points more than AFC Leopards. The league was to resume this weekend after the international break.

“Football Kenya Federation has with immediate effect, suspended all FKF Leagues and competitions, which include but are not limited to the FKF-PL League, National Super League, FKF Division 1, FKF Division 2 Leagues, all FKF women Leagues, all FKF branch and grassroots leagues as well as all FKF national and grassroots tournaments, until further notice,” FKF CEO Barry Otieno said in a statement on Friday.

AFC Leopards’ Elvis Rupia reacts in a past match. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

But with the element of uncertainty about Covid-19 as well as the potential severity of the virus, no one knows when the league will resume.

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In March 2020,  the government made a similar announcement forcing FKF to cancel their entire football season.

Then basing on the mid-season’s table standings, the federation went on to declare Gor Mahia the Premier League champions and promoted Nairobi City Stars’ back to the topflight football as per FKF’s rule book.

Both Gor Mahia (39 points) and City Stars (43 points) were leading their respective leagues by the end of the first leg before the season was suspended in March.

“Where the league format due to circumstances of force majeure fails to be completed within the season, the league winner shall be determined as follows; Where all the Clubs in the league have completed the first round fixture but less than 75% league games have been played, the table standings at the end of the first round shall be considered as the final table standings of the league,” states Rule of the Rules and Regulations Governing Kenyan Football.

But if the current situation persists, it will be disappointing for the brewers' fans as Tusker will not be crowned the champions as explained in article Failure to complete league in FKF’s rule book.

“Before each and every club has completed its first round fixture the league shall be declared null and void,” reads part of the rule.

Should the state prevail for long, it means no team will be promoted or relegated from the league.

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