Analysis: Surviving the Kenya Premier League relegation chop

Superfoota analyses the survival statistics of newly promoted clubs over the last five seasons in the Kenya Premier League. Not surprising is the margin between survival and relegation narrowing while the rewards for success ever increasing.

all stars

50 years since they won the inaugural Kenya Premier League title, 40 years since they got relegated from top flight football and over 3 decades since they got disbanded after Limuru’s Bata Bullets raided the club and signed almost all their best players- Nakuru All Stars finally have a reason to smile- and not just smile, a chance to roll back the years. 30 minutes was all Nakuru All Stars needed to confirm their status in Kenya’s top flight football, as Wilson Andati’s solo strike rubber stamped Oserian’s stay in the second tier of Kenya’s football albeit for one more year.

Financial Importance of survival

You might have thought KRA mis-understood the importance of beating Rangers FC in the playoffs not until the second half when they had to claw back from 2 goals down to draw and force a POSTA sponsored side home via penalties.

Coach Ken Kenyatta is one brutally honest tactician, understanding too well his team may not enjoy the financial backing other big clubs enjoy- he says when asked about not signing players yet by January 15th, “We are yet to sign anyone because all the best players want money but at the moment we do not have a budget for this purpose.”

Kindly let’s all understand KRA (Yes, Kenya Revenue Authority) – draws its budget in June and to get the cash for well established players, the club will have to wait until 2014 June.

This thus leaves KRA at a very disadvantaged position. The only other consolation though would be the fact that the broadcaster’s money would soon be coming to help the side, something they badly need and didn’t have in the Nationwide League.

Nakuru All Stars on the other hand might have not made many new signings but sent a real good message by signing up a German Coach, surely can’t come for the cheap.

Underlying the importance though of staying up, is the fact that even though you might lose a sponsor today- the assuring cushion of the broadcasters money does not just keep you afloat economically but even on the pitch.

Premier League Survival Statistics

Over the last five years, the average time that newly promoted clubs spent In the Premier League was 2.1 seasons and the last time that all two promoted teams managed to avoid the immediate drop was in 2009 when AFC Leopards finished 13th (won FKF Cup), while Sofapaka were crowned Champions in their first ever top flight season. Over the last seven seasons though, it’s only on one occasion (2011) when the two promoted teams at the start of the season also doubled up as the two bottom teams (Bandari FC and Congo FC) at the end of the season.

Every Point Counts

In four of the last seven seasons, the 14th placed team have survived by a margin of one point or a superior goal difference (2011). And while reaching the ‘33 point mark’ is seen as the Holy Grail by many, the average number of points needed to maintain premier league status over the last seven years has been 30.6. So if KRA & Nakuru All Stars can get to 30.6 (rounding off this figure to 31), they should hope to be on the road for premier league survival.

Investment on the Pitch

It is the players that will ultimately earn these points, which is why all the two newly promoted sides will be looking/have been looking at bringing in new players to create a squad they feel is capable of competing in the League.

Over the last five seasons, the newly promoted teams have brought in the most number of players with an average of 9.67 players (includes mid-season transfers) while the top clubs (counting the top 4), bring in an average of 7.3. This is perhaps understandable, with new clubs looking to bring in the added number of payers they feel would help their ambition of staying up.

The mid-season though presents another exciting time for the struggling (mostly recently promoted) clubs. While they struggle to hold on to their best players from the top clubs- the drop an average of 4 players and sign approximately twice(7.2) as many players as those teams in the top four places (3.3).

The Importance of Six Point Matches

If you’ve been keen enough in most leagues you might have noticed this- “When you are down at the bottom, it’s the six pointers that matter”, besides- in this era of goal difference separating sides tied on points, an extra goal might just earn your team another season of top flight football.

However both relegated sides Karuturi (8) and Western Stima FC (12) gained more/equal points against the bottom five compared to 12th placed Western Stima who only managed 8 points against their direct relegation rivals. So again, it would appear that not even beating those around you at the bottom can guarantee top flight survival.

Hard season ahead

With the above statistics offering a few straight forward answers and projections into what it takes to survive the Kenya Premier League chop especially for newly promoted sides, it’s wise to say- survival and relegation depend on small margins and that more than often, a single point will usually make the difference. wishes Coach Oliver Page and Coach Ken Kenyatta and their teams all the best of luck in the upcoming KPL 2014 Season.

For Further reading on the importance of the figures on the other side of the table, read “How Important are Clean Sheets in the Kenyan Premier League”

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