Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions Tusker FC are fast-earning themselves the ‘FC Hollyhood,’ tag just like the ‘90s German champs, Bayern Munich.
In just five months, events at Ruaraka have shifted from celebrations after dethroning Gor Mahia as league champions, to revolt within the playing unit due to a love triangle. See, there is a woman who was double-dating a player and a club official.
Multiple sources within the club told The Nairobian that player morale is at its lowest from the way the said player - who is barely two years at the club - is being treated.
So murky is the affair that the player has been forced to pay child support, yet he’s not sure whether it’s him or the official who fathered the baby.
“These are not just rumours within the corridors at Ruaraka grounds, but it is happening,” a player whispered in confidence.
Another added that, “This matter is seriously dividing and creating disharmony between the management and the playing unit,” as players need to be respected, which is not currently the case at Ruaraka.
And the results have been there for everyone to see. Tusker players were only given Sh10,000 to play in Mauritius in the Africa Champions League, where they were tossed out by Port Louis 2000.
They then lost to Gor Mahia in the KPL Super Cup. More shocks came when newcomers Nzoia United thrashed them 5-2. That wanting performance has surprised many, but not the players who say it is down to what the management is giving them.
“We train at the bumpy pitch at Railway training ground. The pitch is hard and most of us are training with injuries,” a top player said.
“Why should we train in such conditions?” wondered the player. He says it will be difficult for the club to retain most of the players if the current conditions persist.
Last season, Tusker won a double for the first time in history: The GOtv Shield and the KPL title, pocketing Sh5.5 million. Players expected to go home with good money, but “we were extremely wrong.”
“Our hopes had been raised so high as we battled to win both titles. We knew we will be paid handsomely. But that was not be the case,” a player said.
Each player was given Sh17,000 for winning the GOtv Shield and an additional Sh21,000 for denying Gor Mahia an unprecedented fourth successive title.
“There was no title winning bonus for us. What we got was match winning bonus and we went home so crestfallen.” For a club that prides itself as the best non-community club in the country and the third most successful club in Kenya, the current events were unexpected.
Players are at loggerheads with the management over how their affairs are being managed. Tusker has set a salary cap for the players, and those who demand higher pay are forced to leave.
Last season’s title winning coach, Ugandan Paul Nkata, quit days after his side lifted the league after club management refused to add him Sh50,000 from the Sh150,000 he was previously earning. Key player Osborne Monday also fell out with Tusker after negotiations over a new contract did not yield much.
He moved to Kariobangi Sharks where he was given a good signing fee, double what he was asking at Tusker. Monday declined to comment over his leaving Tusker, but he says he was proud of his achievement there - winning a double and is now settled at his new club.
Players say they are not comfortable with the new coach George Nsimbe, who took over from Nkata.
“What you are seeing now in terms of performance is as a result of the poor morale at the club,” stated a player. Indeed, since the resignation of former chairman James Musyoki early February following an impasse over the composition of the KPL, Tusker has been staggering and stumbling all over the place.