Why there's muted celebration for Gor Mahia's league title

Gor Mahia celebrate after they were declared FKF Premier League 2023/24 season champions at the Machakos Stadium. June 23, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The 2023-2024 FKF Premier League season ended with Gor Mahia claiming their record-extending 21st title after a thrilling 4-3 victory over Bidco United at Machakos Stadium on Sunday.

The victory not only underscored Gor Mahia's dominance in Kenyan football, but also highlighted persistent challenges that continue to hinder the growth of the league.

Gor Mahia's campaign was marked by 21 wins, 10 draws, and three defeats, amassing a total of 73 points. Their closest rivals, Tusker, finished second with 65 points.

This season's triumph further cemented Gor Mahia's hegemony in the league, having won nine titles in the last 14 years, with Tusker claiming the other four.

Despite being an 18-team league, the FKF Premier League has seen little competition at the top, a trend that raises concerns about the league's overall competitiveness.

Benson Omalla was one of the standout performers this season, clinching the Golden Boot award with 19 goals. Omalla’s crucial brace in the final match not only secured the win for Gor Mahia, but also highlighted his importance to the team.

While Gor Mahia celebrated their title win, the season was marred by significant issues that continue to cloud the league's potential.

The lack of sponsorship remains a critical problem. Unlike neighbouring countries such as Tanzania, whose Premier League enjoys robust sponsorship and media visibility, the FKF Premier League struggles to attract and retain financial backing.

The facilities in the FKF Premier League also leave much to be desired. Many stadiums including Machakos Stadium, Mumias Complex, Muhoroni Grounds, Gusii, are in poor condition, lacking the necessary infrastructure to support high-quality football.

Financial instability is another pressing issue. Many clubs struggle to pay their players and staff on time, leading to frequent disruptions.

The 2023-2024 season also saw Muhoroni Youth and Nzoia Sugar relegated to the National Super League (NSL).

Meanwhile, Sofapaka avoided automatic relegation, securing a spot in the relegation and promotion playoffs.

Problems Facing the FKF Premier League

Poor Facilities: Substandard stadiums with inadequate amenities and safety risks for players and spectators.

Lack of Sponsorship: Absence of major league sponsors, affecting prize money, marketing, and promotion.

Financial Instability: Clubs struggling with inconsistent funding, impacting player wages and overall operations.

Low Media Visibility: Insufficient media coverage and limited broadcasting partnerships, reducing fan engagement.

Poor Fan Turnout: Low attendance due to poor facilities, financial constraints, and lack of engaging matchday experiences.

Lack of Competitiveness: Dominance of Gor Mahia and Tusker, reducing overall league excitement and balance.

Relegation Challenges: Frequent instability with clubs facing difficulties upon relegation, needing better support systems.

Organizational Issues: Governance and management challenges within the league, leading to inefficiencies in operations.

Scheduling Inefficiencies: Poorly managed league schedules affecting club performance and fan interest.

Long-term Development Planning: Lack of strategic planning for sustainable growth and development of the league.

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