Difficult decisions will determine Kenya Premier League future
AFC Leopards fans react after they lost 1-0 to Gor Mahia during their KPL Derby at Kasarani Stadium on Sunday 08/03/2020 [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

When the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) announced the suspension of the league due to the coronavirus pandemic they had set the first weekend of April (4-5) as a potential resumption date.

KPL adhered to government’s directive on banning public gatherings on March 13 by postponing their next two rounds of league matches (March 18-19 and 21-28).

But as it stands the season’s conclusion has been thrown into doubt after the government announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew (7 pm-5 am), effective last Friday. 

With this uncertainty and teams having indefinitely suspended their training, there is no one who knows when both the league and FKF Betway Cup action will be back.

And with at least ten matches remaining, many believe there is still plenty to play for both in deciding this season’s league champions and teams to be relegated. The Cup is at the quarter-finals stage.

Although KPL CEO Jack Oguda has admitted that they are still unsure on when the league will resume, the current situation has generated a lot of speculations on what should happen on the league if the season ends prematurely.

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“At the moment, we don’t have any option but to wait for government’s directives. Once everything settles down and the government gives us ago ahead, the governing council will have a sitting to discuss the way forward,” Oguda told Standard Sports.

“The pandemic has complicated the situation both locally and globally, but our health and safety is paramount. As we speak, we don’t have a timeline and I’m not sure when the league will get back to action.”

He continued: “We are also trying to follow up with Fifa and Caf because they are also monitoring the situation worldwide. Therefore, we cannot rush into making any decision until we get a clear picture of the situation.”

While KPL have stressed they will not rush a decision over how this season will finish, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) have already suggested using the current standings to declare the champions and teams to be relegated.

Record champions Gor Mahia are currently at the top of the standings with 54 points from 23 games, seven points ahead of second-placed Kakamega Homeboyz, who have a game in hand.

Tusker are third with 46 points from 22 games, while at the bottom Kisumu All-Stars are tied on nine points with 17th placed Chemelil Sugar. The league is supposed to end on May 23.

This means, that if the league is cancelled, Gor Mahia will be declared champions (win their fourth consecutive title), while Chemelil will join already relegated Sony Sugar in the National Super League (NSL) next season. Kisumu All-Stars will battle with a third-place finisher in NSL in the promotion/relegation play-offs.

But FKF’s suggestion has been met with a lot of resistance from other title chasers.

Kakamega Homeboyz chairman Cleophas Shimanyula and his Tusker counterpart Daniel Aduda feel it will be unfair to declare current leaders K’Ogalo as champions with ten matches to go.

“As far as I’m concerned, if this coronavirus persists, then we should have a play-off between the top two teams in a neutral ground. I think that will be a fair decision to determine the champion because this title race is too close to call,” Shimanyula said last month.

“This coronavirus is beyond our control but if push comes to shove and we are forced to end the league prematurely then we should take a leaf from the other developed league’s rule book. Let’s go with the best practice in the world,” added Aduda.

 

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