KPL: Challenge lies not in expansion, but in openness to reality

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For a debate that continues to grow by the day, the expansion (or non-expansion) of the Kenya Premier league shouldn’t be a decision that divides, but digs deep into our sanity as football loving individuals.

A decision (in writing) earlier this week by the Kenya Premier League company to decline an idea of an 18 team league, has threatened to take us back to the days of two parallel leagues (should anyone have an idea of what it means). FKF, on the other hand, is not making it any easier. That is, following a decree (more of a command and less of a proposal) to increase top flight teams to 18 without any question as a follow up to the formers response.

For the neutrals, this must be the most useless football debate since the 2011 all-inclusive elections that in partiality brought sanity (if you would call it so) to Kenyan football. The reality, however, is this debate wouldn’t go away any soon. Political factors mixed with a need for more control of Kenya’s top flight football means this has to be addressed with utmost hurry.

To the question of expanding the league? Is it possible?

Yes- very much yes. Doesn’t need too much, just a word (like FKF has spoken) and it would be done.

That leads us to, can it be executed? Well, that’s not an answer for the chorus.

The reality in this instance is very clear. KPL, who’ve been running the league in its current format, says it’s beyond their capability now. Rightfully so, citing financial and logistical headaches that would be associated with accommodating two extra teams.

The next question then would be, is FKF just being manipulative and trying to force its way down KPL’s throat or is KPL just being rigid and protective of its territory?

In wake of KPL’s refusal to bow down to FKF’s pressure for an increase of more teams, FKF went ahead to publish financial reports it claims showed that KPL were squandering money that would in effect be used to accommodate two more teams if channeled properly.

That’s pretty commendable of an organization that has a long history of non-accountability and misappropriation of funds meant for football.

But just however, before you thought KPL would be wise enough to hold their calm, they (KPL) go further ahead to spoil it by actually admitting; in the past they have channeled some money to help FKF, rainy day people, rainy day.

However, this in itself doesn’t make conclusive financial statements about the two bodies, the financial status of both parties shall remain a mystery for a very long time, perhaps even eternally.

However, away from the financial woes to the real action that takes place on the pitch- one that both parties swear by the left hand of an unknown football god to promote, does the reality of improvement exist in expansion or not?

The argument FKF puts across that an increase in top flight teams gives more opportunities for players to feature at the highest stage of football, and thus growth can’t be proven. It’s not like the level of competition at the top is so close that it’s impossible to predict who gets relegated or promoted, or rather, the gap between the top flight teams and those in the second tier homogenous- actually it’s worlds apart.

Without taking any sides, the reality thus would be; having 18 teams in the top flight with 9 or slightly less constantly battling relegation and 9 or slightly more constantly fighting it out for the honors- nothing changes.

KPL is the sole factory for locally based players who in turn end up featuring for the national team- if that would be any honest. The few noises that emanate every time the national team coach fails to pick a player from the second and subsequent tiers shouldn’t be blamed on KPL but FKF inability to hire proper scouts and coaches. In relation, KPL’s statement that conjoins the performance of the national team and that of league quality vs league quantity in this statement (read here) seeks to alienate him (KPL) from any woes regarding football growth thus leaving FKF exposed.

That, still, FKF would vehemently deny.

Kenya is currently at position 116 in the FIFA World rankings, shame in every single sense.

A stronger league more than often doesn’t build the best national team, sometimes; it’s the strength that provides a platform for a downfall.

In whatever way, the strength in talk and opinion as opposed to the strength in footballing ideologies brings us to this position of near downfall. The strength exhibited in speech could be put to constructive debate and not ‘decree vs. a hard stance’ war.

Kenyan football needs it.

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