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Fifa officials support 18-team KPL

The 16-team Kenyan Premier League could be expanded to accommodate 18 clubs in the near future, after representatives from football’s world governing body hinted at supporting this proposal.

Fifa officials led by Head of Development for East and Southern Africa Ashford Mamelodi, revealed this to Nairobi News on Friday evening, moments after chairing a day-long arbitration meeting between Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Limited in Nairobi.

Mamelodi was accompanied by his Fifa colleagues James Johnson and Robert Niemann in a three-man delegation sent to resolve the stand-off between the two local football bodies who have publicly differed on when and how to absorb the two additional teams; Kakamega Homeboyz and Nakumatt.

“Our national teams rely on the top flight leagues to feed the national team with local talent.  An expanded league could thus offer a larger pool of resources alongside entertainment to the country’s supporters,” Mamelodi said.

Officials from both KPL and FKF, alongside representatives from 18 clubs including the 14 that survived the league last season attended the meeting.

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

The final decision on how to expand the top flight competition will however largely depend on the findings of an international consultancy firm that Fifa intends to contract to study amongst other issues, the contractual obligations and financial implications involving other partners.

The specialists will tour the country early next month and their findings will be implemented in time for the start of the new league season in February 2015.

The Kenya Premier League (KPL) Limited had been operational since 2006. It is a private company owned by the 16 clubs featuring in the competition.

KPL has been a 16-team affair since 2008, with the members and federation adopting the model of promoting and relegating two teams at the end of each season.

The national body however decided to promote four teams, Posta Rangers, Shabana, Kakamega Homeboyz and Nakumatt last season, a proposal that was rejected outright by KPL’s Governing Council.

Mamelodi said an expanded competition will help grow football in the country. KPL feel the logistics, structure, contractual obligations with sponsors at the moment hinder the expansion of the competition.

Only three African national leagues, in Egypt, Nigeria and Cape Verde consist of more than 18 teams. Other top flight leagues in Uganda, South Africa, Ghana and Botswana have 16 teams.  Sudan, Ethiopia and Tanzania have 14.