Highs and Lows of Kenya Premier League

By Kevin Teya

Kenyan Premier League Limited’s 15-year reign as Kenyan Premier League managers comes to an end on 24th September 2020. A transition team led by Ulinzi Stars FC Chairman Col. Eric Oloo took over the league has been renamed FKF Premier League (FKF-PL).
With the exit, having watched the game both as a fan and journalist, I would like to highlight some of their achievements, areas they should have done better, and the areas they flopped.

Achievements

  1. Supersport – The South African broadcaster gave the Kenyan Premier League a major face-lift and much-needed needed coverage. The partnership also created job opportunities for young Kenyans.
  2. KPL U19/20 Tournaments – These tournaments unearthed some of the best talents in the country. Players like Eric ‘Marcelo Ouma, Joseph Okumu, David Owino, Musa Masika, Kenneth Muguna, Austin Ochieng, Vincent Oburu, Boniface Omondi, Teddy Osok, Brian Musa, Bixente Otieno, Abdallah Hassan, Boniface Muchiri, Michael Kibwage among others all graced the tournament. The last edition was held in 2016 and its graduates dominate the Kenyan Premier League.
  3. Sportpesa – The betting firm sponsored the league, the country’s two most successful teams, organized training for coaches. They organized tournaments like the Sportpesa Cup, sponsored player of the month award and end year gala among others. Bringing Sportpesa on board was a big move by KPL.
  4. KPL played a big role in saving face of Kenyan football at a time when wrangles and warring factions made headlines.
  5. The league gave Kenyan players the platform that helped them get better opportunities outside the country. Some of the players include Victor Wanyama, Michael Olunga, Eric Ouma, Paul Were, Eric Johana, Abud Omar, Brian Mandela, Joseph Okumu, Jesse Were, Ian Otieno, David Owino, John Makwatta etc.
  6. East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) and Tusker sponsorship deal. This was the first major sponsorship deal for the Kenyan Premier League. It was bettered by Sportpesa.
  7. KPL TOP 8 and Kenya Power Charity Cup. This game players and clubs more opportunities to express their talents.

Should have done better

  1. Officiating – Officiating of league matches was average if not below par. At some point Tusker FC played a night match against Muhoroni Youth with 12 men!
  2. Delays in resolving conflicts/disciplinary cases – Independent Disciplinary and Appeals Committee (IDCC) took forever to make simple decisions such as banning a player, imposing fines, giving verdicts on abandoned matches etc.
  3. Some of the contracts signed did not protect the clubs. AFC Leopards for example lost a multi-million deal from Zuku due to the arbitrary nature of the contract the league managers had with Supersport.
  4. KPL allowed matches to be played in substandard grounds. Maybe if they were stricter clubs would have prioritized infrastructure development. At some point we had matches being played at Camp Toyoyo Grounds!
  5. KPL was at loggerheads with both the former and current FKF leadership. Maybe a smoother relationship would have helped in the growth of the game.

Failures

  1. KPL failed to fully professionalize the league. Departments such as marketing should have been left to marketers and not club chairmen.
  2. KPL failed to market the league and bring more partners on board. After landing one or two sponsorship deals they moved back to their comfort zones.
  3. Match-fixing. KPL did not even attempt to tackle match-fixing, they severally downplayed the issue until FIFA took charge and slapped some players with bans for engaging in the vice.
  4. Clubs/players did not benefit much from the millions pumped into the league. A big chunk of the sponsorship monies was used to settle administrative costs.
  5. Leniency. Some clubs got away with treason.
  6. Hooliganism. This is a vice KPL failed to curb.
  7. Organisation and Security. We witnessed insecurity incidences during KPL reign, some caused by poor planning from the league organizers. For example the 2010 Mashemeji Derby held at night in Nyayo Stadium led to loss of lives.

They also organized Kenya Power Charity games involving Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards at the same venue in 2014 and it led to many injuries.

The article was lifted from his Facebook Account.

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