Now KPL suspends Nakumatt & Zoo Kericho matches after court ruling

By alex wafula
Sep 22, 2017
  • Zoo Kerico celebrate after scoring a goal against Ulinzi. Their continued participation in the KPL is in doubt after a court ruling. (SNA. File Photo)

The Kenyan Premier League 2017 season took a new twist Friday afternoon when the KPL Governing Council suspended matches involving Nakumatt FC and Zoo Kericho.

This move follows a High Court ruling on Thursday which nullified Football Kenya Federation’s decision to expand the top tier to 18 teams.

Nakumatt and Zoo were promoted to the top tier courtesy of the decision to expand the league to 18 teams at the end of the season.

KPL now say the decision will stand until an appeal yet to be made by FKF at the Appeal Court is heard and determined.

During their meeting on Friday, the league managers called in a lawyer to interpret the ruling which specifically stated that the 2017 season should have only 16 teams.

“Part d of the ruling was very clear and as KPL we have to respect the court ruling. We don’t have much of a choice. This decision to suspend the two clubs’ matches will stand until after the Appeal Court makes its decision,” Jack Oguda, the KPL Chief Executive told Sports News Arena.

Nakumatt were scheduled to travel to Kisumu this weekend to face relegation threatened Western Stima while Zoo Kericho were at home to fellow league new comers Nzoia United.

Part (d) of the ruling reads; “A declaration be and is hereby issued that Kenyan Premier League shall have a maximum of 16 teams during the 2017 season, consisting of the fourteen (14) Kenyan Premier League teams which qualified for sporting merit on the field during the 2016 plus the two (2) highest ranked clubs at the end of the 2016 season in the Football Kenya Federation’s National Super League.”

Next course of action

It remains to be seen what next course of action would be taken if the Appeal Court upholds the decision of the High Court.

Oguda admits as much that it will be a complicated situation which will leave the league managers and federations possibly glaring at another flurry of court cases that characterized the beginning of the season.

“I think now that will be a decision to be made by FKF on what happens if the Court of Appeal decides that the decision stands,” Oguda said.

The 2017 season was delayed by close to a month over the fight on increasing the size of the top tier. Ultimately, after the intervention of the Sports Disputes Tribunal, a compromise was reached that the league would have 18 teams.

Already, 25 matches have been played with the league set to come to a close mid November.

If the Appellate Court upholds the decision by the High Court, then points earned by the other teams from matches involving the two teams might be deducted.

The decision might hurt current league leaders Gor Mahia who have earned maximum home and away points from the two clubs.

A huge beneficiary of the decision might be Ulinzi Stars who lost home and away to Zoo Kericho and lost at home to Nakumatt.

Alternatively, a middle ground might be reached for the season to conclude as it is but the 2018 season to begin with 18 teams. This will welcome a new relegation and promotion criteria to be discussed by the federation and league managers.