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Why pay cuts won’t happen at KPL teams

By Barry Silah
Monday, April 6th, 2020
Gor Mahia winger Boniface Omondi (left) vies for the ball with AFC Leopards defender Robert Mudenyu during the Mashemeji derby last month. Photo/PD/DAVID NDOLO

With players in established football leagues in Europe taking massive pay cuts to either save their clubs from financial ruin, keep non-playing staff on the pay slip or donate to hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic, there have been reports that the same could happen in Kenya.

This is due to reports last week that Kenyan Premier League (KPL) side Kakamega Homeboyz have agreed to execute a 50 per cent pay reduction on the players and members of the technical bench starting this month as Covid-19 continues to ravage sporting activities.

“We met with players and agreed on this issue because our sponsors (Kakamega county government) did the same. No player or member of the technical bench was forced to take the pay cut.

We urge other clubs to follow suit so as to ensure success in fight against this pandemic,” Homeboyz CEO Bernard Shitabayi told People Sport last week.

But while Homeboyz may have their own reasons, the issue of pay cuts may be difficult in KPL given Kenyan clubs hardly pay their players anyway. 

Cases of players going four or three months without pay are common in Kenya and the bad situation became worse this season when the league lost a title sponsor with most clubs barely surviving.

Just last week, Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier was at pains to explain that the Sh3,000 given to players was not a salary but allowances after the playing unit had gone on a go-slow seeking payment of arrears for three months only to receive the measly sum. 

Speaking to People Sport yesterday, KPL CEO Jack Oguda agreed that the issue of pay cut has not found its way to the league governing body’s Executive Council and is unlikely to since there is no money to talk about in the first place.

Oguda’s sentiments are supported by AFC Leopards chairman Dan Shikanda. 

“We are not negotiating anything of the sort because even that money is lacking.

There is just no way we can do pay cuts, instead we will focus in improving their welfare,” said Shikanda, who has seen a number of high-profile players and a coach leave the club due to non-payment of salaries this season.

Sofapaka president Elly Kalekwa, whose club also owes players, has more to worry about, saying even sponsors might have to cut their packages due to the pandemic.

“This has affected all of us and I am concerned because we have no answers. As a family, we share the little available.

We cannot start telling players about salary cuts because it will be insensitive,” said Kalekwa, whose club is sponsored by betting firm Betika.   

 Tusker and Wazito have also told their players not to worry as their salaries are intact.

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