Mwendwa: FKF Premier League will be played behind closed doors

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Goal Kenya.

The Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has confirmed the 2020-21 Premier League season, which starts on Saturday, will be played without fans.

The federation president Nick Mwendwa has told Goal fans will not be allowed to watch matches owing to the Covid-19 restrictions and that if fans try to use force to enter the stadium, then the referee is under instructions to not kick off the match.

“I want to be very clear, no fans will be allowed into the stadium be it in Nairobi or matches being played outside the City,” Mwendwa told Goal on Friday. “We don’t want fans crowding the stadium, trying to come to watch matches, they will not be allowed in.

“We are under clear instructions to play football without fans and that is what we will do, and to be clear, should fans of any team try to come to the stadium to watch any match, then the referee of the day is under instructions not to kick-off the match, the match will not start.

“We don’t know how long the league will be played without fans but that is the situation, for now, clubs must inform fans of the development, we don’t want to have problems, only players, club a few club officials and journalist, covering matches will be allowed into the match venues.

“My humble appeal to the fans is to urge them to grab their StarTimes decoder and watch matches live from their homes, the matches will be live on both packages, aerial and satellite, and will also apply if you have a StarTimes App, so get ready so as you don’t miss the action.”

Mwendwa also admitted he was excited to see domestic football return to the country since mid-March when it was prematurely ended owing to the coronavirus pandemic, while having two sponsors – betting firm BetKing and TV partners StarTimes.

“It is breaking of new ground, Mwendwa continued. “We have suffered a lot for the last three years and I remember people kept asking me when will we see Kenya football on TV [since the exit of SuperSport], and I am happy we are back in a big way on Saturday.”

“It is a seven-year deal with StarTimes but it took us two months to reach an agreement and it is worth 1.1million US dollars per year in seven years and we have a right to renegotiate again when it expires.

“We now have two partners, long term contracts of seven years each, and I know what it means to have such partners, we have suffered a lot, the players have suffered and it is good news for us as Kenyan football, it is time to kick-off football again.”

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Three matches will kick off the season on Saturday with AFC Leopards versus Tusker being broadcast live by StarTimes, with the two other matches pitting promoted Vihiga United against Kakamega Homeboyz at Mumias Compex and Bandari against Sofapaka at Mbaraki Stadium.

On Sunday, four matches will be played - Nairobi City Stars taking on Nzoia Sugar at Nyayo Stadium, Kariobangi Sharks against Wazito FC at Kasarani Stadium, Posta Rangers vs KCB at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, and Western Stima against Bidco United at Moi Stadium in Kisumu.

Champions Gor Mahia, who will be taking part in Caf Champions League assignment against APR of Rwanda, will open the season with a home game against Zoo FC at Nyayo Stadium on December 2.