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Dark clouds hang over KPL as financial crunch bites hard

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When AFC Leopards travelled to Awendo on Saturday only to return to Nairobi without touching the ball, Anthony Kimani, Ingwe’s assistant coach regretted the free three points.

The situation outside was telling: From 9:00am match officials were outside the shabbily furnished Awendo Green Stadium before players joined later to draw the climax of the sad script.

Not even fans who travelled from as far as Nairobi were comfortable to go back with free three points without watching the beautiful game.

The sad tone in Kimani’s short message to Citizen Digital just before rains halted their warm up to nothing, forcing their retreat to their now fairy tired bus, underscored the signal for hard times ahead could only have been sparked at Awendo.

Sony Sugar had failed to show up at their home ground, crying foul they could play no more without money. But, according to Kimani, the financial crunch could be eating up so many other clubs.

“It is not a Sony Sugar problem. All clubs are facing this kind of situation. After the exit of the sponsor we have been experiencing issues too and we are hoping soonest there will be a sponsor not only for us (AFC Leopards) but the entire league,” said Kimani.

He was just honest. The burden could be even worse for the two most successful clubs in Kenya, Leopards and holders Gor Mahia.

The two sides were directly under the sponsorship of betting firm SportPesa that has since halted operations in Kenya. Besides, SportPesa was sponsoring KPL Limited, with little grants from the league running body still being shared among the members.

Thus, their exit means Gor and Leopards are even more exposed, reckoning their huge salary budgets could hurt them further.
For example, Gor’s management is on record that the clubs spends Sh. 5.5 million every month on salaries alone. This becomes more complicated considering their participation in the continental assignments.

The two sides have already turned to people of goodwill to help run their basic operations, just within their five initial rounds of the 2019/20 season.

KPL to take a break?

Shock on the fans came as KPL Chief Executive Officer Jack Oguda hinted they could stop the league last weekend, as their staff have gone without salaries for months, leave alone affording to give clubs their grants.

Oguda told a local daily that a consultative meeting on whether league should be stopped will be held on Monday, with a room for a major announcement before the international break set for this weekend.

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Interestingly, the troubles seem to have mitigated the strained relations between FKF and KPL.
KPL Limited appears to have danced to Football Kenya Federation’s (FKF) tune, as far as their contract to run the league is concerned
During the federations AGM on Saturday, FKF boss Nick Mwendwa took a U-turn from his initial stance that he would not renew KPL’s contract, but on condition of new agreement that gives the federation more voice in the running the league.

“We cannot have a chairman of a club chairing the KPL as well. I am proposing we have a professional who is independently elected by delegates to serve for a term of four years as the chairman of the KPL

“They (KPL) also have to operate from the Goal Project (FKF headquarters) to save on costs and in tandem with our mission. We have to package all our leagues together and work in unity. These are some of the things we need to change going forward,” said Mwendwa, showing a softening of stance in his approach to the body that has threatened to spoil his first tenure with court battles especially at the beginning.

In his response, Oguda said unity between FKF was the only way to solve the crisis facing the league and the sport in general.
“I welcome his (Mwendwa) suggestions. At these tough times what we need is stability and joint efforts to take the game forward. As KPL we are always ready to work with the federation to improve the league and football in Kenya in general,” Oguda said giving a pointer to the thawing of relations between the two erstwhile rivals heading Kenya’s largest football bodies

An almost inevitable handshake between KPL and FKF could be a precursor to new league sponsors, with the National Super League (NSL) whose official broadcaster has expressed his wish to terminate their partnership also facing similar challenges as the topflight.




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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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