FKF Premier League season is set to start on 28th of November, 2020. This follows the postponement of the start date which had been scheduled to be on 20th. The federation in their communication, cited various areas that they are yet to finalize on before the league can start. Some of the key areas that the league organizers are handling are matters relating to adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
Part of the logistical aspects being handled is to ensure that all match officials for the league are tested for COVID-19. The organizing body is as well manoeuvring on how all the players will be tested for the deadly coronavirus disease 2019.
Here are some of the must know things as far as the FKF Premier League 2020/21 season is concerned.
Having taken part in the playoffs two weeks ago, Kisumu All Stars joins the bandwagon of the relegated clubs. Kisumu All-Stars were promoted to the top tier league in the 2019/20 season. This followed their one-year stint at the National Super League. At NSL, the club performed so well earning them promotion to the top tier league.
They will now join both Chemelil FC and Sony Sugar in the relegation. Their relegation will definitely mean a lot to the local football.
League sponsorship and naming rights
The new league is set to record the highest sponsorship deal in the country. Since 1963 when the top tier league started, this seasons’ league will be the highest sponsored season ever. In a sponsorship deal signed between BetKing bets and FKF, the bookmakers are set to pump in Kenya Shillings 1.2 billion per season. Each respective club in the top tier league through the deal will be able to receive at least eight million Kenya shillings for the new season.
Having lost SportPesa as the league sponsors one year ago, this is going to be a big boost to both the clubs and the federation at large.
Traditionally known as the KPL, this seasons league will have a new name. FKF having refused to renew the contract of Kenya Premier League as the organizers of the league, the new league will hold a new name. The league from this season will be called the FKF BetKing Premier League. This was reached after the governing federation inked a partnership deal with the Nigeria based bookmakers. Part of the deal between the two parties was to rename the league.
Being the title sponsors of the league, BetKing will have their name featured as the leagues title. That’s however not the first time a leagues name is being changed in Kenya. During the reign of SportPesa, the league was renamed to SportPesa Premier League. The same happened when East Africa Breweries Ltd under their signature brand Tusker sponsored the league. At that time, the league was renamed again from Kenya Premier League to Tusker Premier League.
Football in Nyanza
Nyanza region is the biggest losers in the league yet to start. The region which has for the longest time had good teams at the top tier league. They will have to battle with the fact that the majority of the teams from the region will not be competing in the news season.
Last season, the region has had all of their top three clubs being relegated to the lower division at once. Sony Sugar FC lead the pack after being automatically relegated from the league. The 2006 champions were relegated from the league after failing to honour three matches of the league. The Awendo based team struggled in the league owning to financially instability of their parent company, Sony Sugar Ltd.
A similar scenario is being reported at Chemelil FC where the parent company Chemelil Sugar Ltd is as well struggling financially. Privatization of the sugar company’s in the region has further dimmed the chances of those clubs’ revivals to life. Two weeks ago, Chemelil FC club was dissolved. Plyers were thereafter asked to leave the club to wherever they wish to join.
Disbanding the club marked their 24-year-old stay at the top tier league. Formed in 1968, the region will have to fight hard so that they can have a place in the top tier league again.
Nyanza region will definitely be a cold place without any team participating in the top tier league for a whole season. Who will seize the opportunity?
KPL exits the stage
Kenya Premier League have run the league since 2003 when it was formed. Formed as a result of wrangles between clubs and the governing federation. Kenya Premier League is a private limited company owned by the top tier clubs in Kenya. The company was formed as a result of wrangles between club’s in the top tier league and the governing federation. It’s, however, the same circumstances that have led to them being knocked out of the league’s management. Relationship between the governing body and the company had stretched to the limit and that made FKF to adamantly refuse renewal of KPL’s term as the league organizers. With FKF taking charge of the league, we can only wait to see what’s going to happen in the new season. Time shall definitely tell.
No trophy for Gor Mahia
Despite being declared league champions, Gor Mahia is yet to receive their winning trophy. After winning the league title three consecutive times, Gor Mahia took away the league trophy permanently. Their dominance of the league has however caused them troubles, since winning the trophy, FKF has not made any trophy for the winning team.
Loss of SportPesa as the title sponsors threw the federation off the target as the bookmakers were to design and procure a new trophy for the league. That however didn’t happen as SportPesa terminated all their sponsorship deals in the country owing to harsh tax regulations by the Kenyan government.
Apart from the trophy, Gor Mahia are yet to receive their league winning bonuses from last season.
Nairobi City Stars comeback
The new FKF Premier League will welcome other new members. After two seasons in lower-division league, Nairobi City Stars have managed to earn a promotion to the league. This follows a sterling performance they showed in the National Super League last season. The Nairobi City Stars will be accompanied by Bidco United to 2020/21. Bidco is making a comeback after a long struggle to get into the top flight.
After downing Kisumu All-Stars two weeks ago in the playoffs, Vihiga based Vihiga United are making it to the top tier league. Vihiga United was relegated from the top tier league two seasons ago. Their had efforts have however helped them to earn another promotion.
Clubs sponsorship deals
The now overstretched presence of COVID-19 has offered another platform for various clubs. Apart from the sponsorship deals for the league, some clubs have managed to secure sponsorships. The new entrants into the league sponsorship consist of BetKing bets and StarTimes who shall be the key sponsors for the league.
BetKing and StarTimes being the key sponsors of the league have helped in opening sponsorship for respective clubs. StarTimes will now be the official media and broadcast right owners for the next seven years.
The two sponsorships for the league are currently the most lucrative sponsorship deals that the league has ever received.
At club level, two leading clubs in Kenya have managed to secure sponsorship. Arch rivals AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia have within the COVID-19 window managed to secure sponsors.
For both clubs, just like in the previous sponsorship with SportPesa, have managed to find new sponsors. Kenya’s two leading clubs will for the next three years be under the sponsorship of BetSafe as their main shirt sponsors.
With SportPesa still struggling to get back their feet in the Kenyan market, the local scene will definitely miss their presence. If they will manage to come back in operation in Kenya, it will be interesting to see which club they will opt to sponsor.
The giant bookmakers have already lost their sponsorship deals to rival companies in Kenya. They have also lost the sponsorship of the main league.
Globally, empty stadiums are some of the things that people are moving on with. The new normal. We have all seen in many European countries where teams are playing in empty stadiums. The same scenario is more likely to happen in Kenya. As FKF waits for clearance from the government, there is no lie that such talks are some of the areas that have stalled the start of the league.
As it stands, we must be ready to miss going to the stadiums to cheer up our beloved teams. It will be a boring season without seeing the legion of the Green Army thronging stadiums in thousands of them. The case is not better off with Ingwe fanatics who will have to support their beloved clubs from their homes.
For other clubs, it will be a disaster failing to watch their spoonful fans in the stadium. We can only hope that those fans don’t backtrack from supporting those developing teams. They are very crucial people in the development of sports in Kenya.