TIMOTHY OLOBULU / AIPS* in NAIROBI: Even a ‘consultative meeting’ between Football Kenya Federation, the top tier league managing body Kenya Premier league Limited and three representatives from FIFA, could not achieve a truce over a battle to expand the premier league to 18 teams from a current 16-team format.

The FKF had passed a resolution to expand the league from 16 teams to 18 teams but that decision never went down well with KPL who insisted on retaining the 16-team format.

The latest meeting was called to find a solution, but unfortunately, only grey smoke emanated after the officials emerged from the closed door meeting.

FIFA’s development officer. South African Ashford Mamelodi, led a three-man FIFA team for the meeting with KPL and FKF representatives. Robert Niemann and James Johnson were the other two accompanying Mamelodi.

The three met FKF officials and all KPL club chairmen in the morning session but no common ground would be reached forcing a smaller meeting to be convened involving three officials each from FKF and KPL. After the second meeting, the decision was reached to ask FIFA to second a consultant to help delve deeper into the issue and give a direction to the federation and league governing body.

FKF chair Sam Nyamweya, his deputy Robert Asembo and the leagues and competitions head Doris Petra represented FKF while KPL chair Robert Asembo, finance committee chair George Odhiambo and Mathare United FC chair Bob Munro represented KPL.

A joint statement released after the meeting said: “Arising from the deliberations, it was agreed that FIFA will as soon as possible make available a consultant who will hold meetings with the federation, KPL and all stakeholders before making recommendations.

“In coming up with the recommendations, the consultant will look into the pros and cons of an expanded league or otherwise, submissions of the federation and the league administrators, contractual obligations and financial implications thereof.”

FKF had threatened to snatch back the powers to run the league from KPL after the hard-line position maintained by the latter on the expansion of the league. When they took over running of the game in 2011 after an all inclusive election overseen by Mamelodi, FKF had “verbally agreed” with KPL to continue running the league after the latter picked it up following years of wrangles in the local football scene way back in 2008.

KPL has entered into contracts with South African Pay TV channel, Supersport as the league’s broadcast partners while East African Breweries through their beer brand Tusker came in as league title sponsors, both contracts being solely between the sponsors and KPL. However, the lose end is a lack of contract or MoU between KPL and FKF on running of the league.

According to its constitution, FKF have power to run the league on their own. FKF had also accused KPL of gross mismanagement of funds from the sponsors and hence their threat to take back the running of the league. Broadcast partners, Supersport were also not of the idea of an 18-team league saying their current contract with KPL does not make room for 18 teams.

With the league set to begin in February and the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cups also beckoning in the same month, KPL and FKF are in a race against time to reach to a conclusion.

FKF had already written to Nakumatt FC and Kakamega Homeboyz who finished second in their respective zones informing them that they would be the additions to the league next season. Nairobi City Stars FC and Nakuru All Stars FC were relegated after the 2014 season ended in November, Posta Rangers FC and Shabana FC earning promotion.

** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide. More information: www.AIPSmedia.com

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