The 2009 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions Sofapaka have every reason to thank the Sports Disputes Tribunal. The tribunal ruled that Sofapaka and Muhoroni youth be reinstated into the KPL after punching various loopholes in the manual used by the Licensing committee to award marks for licensing.
Sofapaka and Muhoroni had been relegated to the second tier National Super League, after failing the financial criteria of FIFA’s Club Licensing regulations.
The question is, would Sofapaka have survived the debacle and fight back to the KPL? The answer is a resounding NO! For starters, what would have happened to its current players?
This is most likely what would have happened: According to Clause 1.1 of the Standard KPL contract, “The club employs the footballer as a footballer to play in the Kenya Premier League and any other matches in which the club is participating (“The KPL”) subject to the KPL rules for the fixed period recorded in this contract of employment as amended from time to time”.
The fore mentioned clause has the following ramifications:
First, players are only employed to feature in matches related to the preparation of KPL matches which KPL clubs participate in i.e. DSTV Cup, Go-TV Shield, Top 8 and other friendly matches for the preparation of the KPL league. The contract doesn’t mention whatsoever featuring in NSL competitions.
Second, a club having signed a player with the above clause intended that the period of the player’s contract shall remain in the top flight league to the best of its ability.
The clubs demoted have failed to adhere to the FIFA Club Licensing regulations amounting to a fundamental breach of their duties and responsibilities to ensure their participation in the KPL. Third, the clubs having failed to meet their end of the bargain, cannot force their players to play for them in the NSL under the contracts signed.
Now, the “force majeure” clause which would have catered for unforeseeable events beyond the control of the two parties to observe or not observe the contract is not in the contract. In short the contracts of the two clubs if demoted would have been overtaken by events.
As a result the players would have left to seek other contracts to further their careers hence leaving the two in a precarious position and even relegation into oblivion. Chairman
Perhaps this explains as to why Sofapaka president Elly Kalekwa fought tooth and nail to ensure his beloved club remains in the top tier league.