AFC Leopards SC has released an official press statement explaining the reasons why they have decided not to honor Sunday’s (July 29) Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Top Eight encounter against bitter rivals Gor Mahia FC.
Leopards, who absconded the pre-match/security meeting on Wednesday 25 July, claim that the organizers (KPL) did not consult them over the match’s date.
According to the statement signed by Secretary General Winston Kituyi, AFC made an official request to KPL to defer the scheduled match against Gor Mahia FC in the Top 8 tournament but KPL rejected it.
-As first timers in participating in this tournament, Leopards raised some issues which have yet to be addressed by KPL. For starters, the Executive Committee of the club was not consulted before the match was fixed for 29th July 2012 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, read the statement.
-This match had been postponed indefinitely since 1st April 2012 following concerns that had been raised by our club after our fans were injured in a match played against Gor on 18th March this year. In a shocking decision, it was indicated that no proof was given of any fans having been injured and thus no compensation was granted to our fans. But in order not to inflame any tensions between the two teams, the Executive Committee decided not to appeal against the decision; with the hope that the concerns that necessitated the postponement of the match would nonetheless be addressed before the fixture was scheduled.
-At the time, Gor was not allowed to play in the stadia managed by the Sports Stadia Management Board and Leopards patiently waited for that hurdle to be overcome before arrangements were made on the rescheduled fixture. At no point did Leopards claim a walk over for the match to take advantage of our rival’s tribulations.
-In fact, there is no other team that Leopards enjoys playing against than Gor Mahia. We have played Gor for the last 44 years in the league; we have played them in knock out tournaments; we have played them in Nairobi and Mombasa; we have played them out of the country. We relish the chance to play them again in the Top 8 tournament.
-KPL then unilaterally decided to take advantage of the supposed absence of Tusker FC in the CECAFA tournament to reschedule the league match that Leopards had against Tusker on 29th July 2012 and instead fix the Top 8 tournament clash. All that our Executive Committee saw was communication to this extent dated 16th July 2012. No mention was made to the previous concerns that Leopards had raised and the assurances sought from both KPL and Gor.
-Gor raised the issue of having to play a mid week league fixture number 160 against Ulinzi on 25th July 2012 before the Top 8 match on 29th July 2012 which showed the extent to which the two teams, Leopards and Gor, had not been consulted before arriving at the date 29th July 2012. KPL quickly amended the fixtures again to reschedule the Ulinzi league match.
-Surely fixtures have to be coordinated and well planned to avoid these constant changes. In fact, these sentiments are shared by our colleagues at Gor. In their letter to KPL recently, Gor had indicated that the match should be rescheduled to a date favourable to both teams. Now that their match against Ulinzi was rescheduled, perhaps they feel that 29th July 2012 is favourable to them but it goes against their own letter that said the match should be on a date favourable to BOTH teams.
-Leopards wrote a letter to KPL on 24th July 2012 and requested for the deferment of the match. The technical bench of the team had already requested the deferment of the match and we were surprised that the CEO of the KPL was quoted as turning down the deferment without reference to the club.
-Media reports indicated that the security personnel for the match had already been appointed; ticketing agents appointed; prices for match tickets fixed and so on yet Leopards had not been addressed on these issues. Instead, the KPL CEO indicated that this could be addressed at the pre-event meeting on 25th July 2012. If one of the issues that was being raised by the club was the suitability of the date, which is an issue that should be between the two clubs and KPL, why would the club be asked to make such representations before Avenue Rescue Services, SSMB to name just a few, who were to attend the said pre-event meeting.
-We as a club have the greatest respect for KPL. In fact, our Chairman is a Director of the Kenyan Premier League Limited. We do not value money and have always taken part in tournaments to play for our pride. Whatever cash incentives may come out of the participation is a mere bonus to us. That is why we have been playing in the FKF Cup or Presidents Cup even when we know we may be spending money that we don’t get back.
-It would have been prudent for KPL to consult the club on its position to honour the match and favour the club with other important details such as the rules of this tournament and all other pertinent information to enable the club’s Executive Committee to make an informed decision. The consultation we believe is one that can take place in one day at a round table featuring our opponents Gor, KPL and ourselves. Surely that is not much to ask for. It is quite simple: We want to play Gor Mahia FC at a convenient date and not in hurried circumstances that arouse suspicion, it concluded.
The AFC Leopards - Gor Mahia game is the only pending quarter final game in the KPL Top 8 currently in it's second season.