KPL Match Day Locations; Football relevance or Economic gain?


Top flight football in Kenya has existed since independence and as time goes by, more and more interest by the legion of ever increasing local fans seeks to take the game to an all-time high with results and economic gain being demanded in equal measure. 
  
For every three points celebration, a stalemate conversation and a loss’ explanation more goes behind the scenes in terms of the level of football and the economic gain of a match. It’s an assumed fallacy that ‘football’ is the ‘core’ of every team that seeks to compete in the league; well- the 21st century game has much evolved. The players no longer put their bodies on the line and passion to the test for nothing; actually it amounts to several shillings in match bonuses in case of a win/draw for some teams.
A loss in terms of revenue and gate collections spells double tragedy while a win on the pitch and a boom in match gate collections is the ultimate toast. Lots of factors determine the pricing of gate charges such as type of opposition, actual venue and even sometimes time which I will speak about later in this piece.
Away from the points and cash arithmetic, a league’s format is structured in a way- each team has an equal chance (twice a season) to play against each other- what is commonly termed as Home and Away. The Local league is no different but the factual meanings leave a lot to be desired in terms of physical match locations.
 Home Ground
It’s a common thing in every league for a team to have its home ground, sometimes a second ground but all this is dependent on factors ranging from level of the league, financial muscle and the availability of grounds. In Kenya teams have as much as the third ground but with the 50th year of independence here- it’s a sorry state of the game, not much has been done we got to admit.
It’s in such cases that a fan of a team that maybe hails from the Western part of the Country never has a chance to watch his club play at (its original location) for just under two thirds of its total home matches. Clubs like Kakamega Homeboys, Muhoroni Youth, Chemelil FC and Sony Sugar FC are forced many times to deny their fans a chance to watch the big boys at their (original locations) mostly because of the desire for more gate collections by the Club, the volatility of the match (such grounds may not be able to contain such number of crowds), LIVE TV appearance just to mention a few.
A quick check around social media in the past week paints a perfect picture of a frustrating war between Logic, Football and the Money. Chemelil FC played their earlier postponed match against Gor Mahia at the Nyayo Stadium in what was meant to be a home tie for the Sugar belt based side. While others would expect Chemelil to take the game to Chemelil as the ‘unwritten’ rules of League football would dictate- the glaring truth would be that Chemelil FC for whatever accusations levelled against them needed the gate collection money badly and at the same time couldn’t hold such a match in Chemelil as its regarded a highly ‘volatile’ match by KPL. Those numbers of fans in all honesty can’t fit the Chemeil pitch and even if they did- security apparatus would find it hard to handle them.
On the other logical piece of thought- was it giving Gor Mahia advantage as most of its fans are Nairobi based? Was it denying the Chemelil fans a chance to watch their team tackle Gor Mahia at home?
Cash V Reality
While we may want demonise these clubs for loving the paper- it’s only fair to note sometimes it does no good to football. Fans in these areas would love to watch Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Tusker FC, Sofapaka all travel to these destinations. The kids in these areas would love a chance to dream just beyond their environs; teams as well would love to have memories- memories of once hosting Tusker FC and beating them in their backyard.
The reality of ‘a footballing experience’ might have been denied in several instances but the realisation of booming business by Club Owners/Management has also led to further trouble on the fans part.
When a team, probably from the further parts of the Capital host their games closer to it or in it- the fact is they got to pay for the grounds. Away from paying for the grounds- the main reason of them travelling which is football needs to bear some profit which again is further challenged by the need to set up camp a day or two before the actual match.
All these factors combined weighs down on match day tickets and with the harsh economic bug hitting everyone- the fans got to dig deeper into their pockets to foot these expenses.
Way Forward
We must all at this point accept something needs to be done to this situation in the League. In an era where more and more teams are getting professional- it’s only right for teams to have proper home stadiums of course for the most naked facts (building a fan base, saving on stadium hosting expenses, saving on training expenses and even building a fortress)
Most teams originaly have stadiums for themselves but most of them are either municipally owned or shared between them and other teams it’s a time to reflect at what has gone wrong all this while. Has the federation so far done enough to help get more stadums available or the existing ones playable? It’s a shame that clubs like Tusker FC in this age and time don’t play at Ruaraka since the pitch is regarded ‘being in a bad state’. On the other hand it’s exciting to know that starting August- the pitch will be ready as this will save the club lots of expenses.
Probably the third time I’m speaking about this on superfoota.com; a security report released by G4S on the aftermath of a stadium stampede at Nyayo National Stadium still blights the commitment of KPL/FKF to match security in Kenya. Almost 2 years since its release- it’s a shame some stadiums still can’t be used to host some matches are they are regarded ‘highly volatile’. For those that are given go-aheads- the level of security is sorry and more often than not the risks are glaring.
So while the 16 teams aim to take on each other every match day lot’s still need to be done on match day locations- Football is  a business, Football is  a sport- where thus should the line be drawn regarding the relevance of the sport and economic achievements? 
                                                                  image via TPL CHAT on Facebook
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