Jumah: It’s an end of an era, but surely KPL should walk neck high

KPL's 17-year reign in the Kenyan top tier lapsed on Thursday

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Wrangles after wrangles, that was the tale in 2003 and years before, between Kenya Football Federation (KFF) and top tier clubs, threatening the life of the top tier league.

Kenyan Premier League Limited was given the mandate in 2003 to run the top tier. PHOTO/KPL
Kenyan Premier League Limited was given the mandate in 2003 to run the top tier. PHOTO/KPL

That is when Kenyan Premier League Limited was formed, a company that was given the mandate to run the country’s top tier league at least to keep it afloat amid the anti-sports turbulence.

On Thursday however, KPL’s 17-year spell came to an end with Football Kenya Federation landing the final and dreaded blow, closing all doors for contract renewal negotiations.

FKF President Nick Mwendwa insists the federation will take over the running of the league after the expiry of KPL’s contract. PHOTO/COURTESY
FKF President Nick Mwendwa insists the federation will take over the running of the league after the expiry of KPL’s contract. PHOTO/COURTESY

“It is over between FKF and KPL, we don’t have anything to discuss nor to negotiate about, they (KPL) have finished their mandate and that is it, the league will now move under FKF,” FKF President Nick Mwendwa stayed put.

Regardless, KPL had its fair share of success. In 2008, the company brought on board international broadcaster SuperSport that aired Kenyan football matches that in turn earned many local footballers moves to more lucrative leagues.

It was during the SuperSport era in Kenya that the likes of Michael Olunga, Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma, Amos Nondi and Eric Johana earned moves to Europe. This on top of the money that the broadcaster paid for the television rights, all that grew the game under KPL.

Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga (R) is one of the players that earned a move to lucrative European leagues. PHOTO/COURTESY

During its tenure KPL roped in a sponsor that not only sponsored the top league but also Mashemeji duo of AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia and Nakuru All-stars.

The sponsor also organized coaching clinics for 65 coaches drawn from the main league, the National Super League and the Women Premier League, the 65 coached by coaches from the Arsenal soccer school.

On top of that, the Hull City friendly against Kariobangi Sharks at Kasarani and that of Everton against Gor Mahia in Liverpool were all during KPL’s tenure.

Friendlies pitting Kenyan clubs and English clubs were during the KPL era. PHOTO/COURTESY

However, wars that rocked KPL during the final months of Sam Nyamweya’s reign as president of FKF did more harm than good.

2015, the year that Kenya stared at the formation of two parallel leagues – the FKF premier league and the Kenya Premier League until subtle threats from the government of disbanding FKF.

Two years later, SuperSport pulled out going with the platform and the monies; and in 2019, the league sponsor also pulled out, extra monies gone too.

Unpaid salaries, unpaid allowances and walk overs became synonymous to Kenyan football. Until March, when the 2019/2020 season was aborted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that was the story.

Sony Sugar FC was relegated after dishing out three walkovers in the 2019/2020 campaign owing to financial crunches. PHOTO/COURTESY

Nick Mwendwa pronounced Gor Mahia champions, a declaration that pitted KPL and FKF in a legal battle in which FKF triumphed.

KPL leaves in one of the lowest moments, football on a hold, but surely it should walk neck high for its achievements at the helm of the game. The Swahili say ‘mgala muue na haki umpe’. Go well Kenyan Premier League Limited.

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