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'Match-fixing is boiling in KPL' – Ambani says after clubs are ordered to pay referees

6:42 AM GMT 18/10/2019
KPL referees (Kenyan referees).
The ex-international criticises the decision to order clubs in the top-flight to pay match referees before league matches

Former international Boniface Ambani has openly castigated the latest decision by the Kenyan Premier League Limited (KPL) to order clubs to pay matchday officials.

On Thursday, KPL CEO Jack Oghuda revealed to Goal the clubs will now be required to cater for the allowances and wages of the referees until they secure a sponsor.

The top-tier managers have been under difficult financial constraints following the exit of title sponsors SportPesa.

Without monthly grants, clubs have been suffering and about two weeks ago, Sony Sugar dished out the first walkover this season against AFC Leopards after failing to raise money for logistics.

“Clubs will have to share the expenses of the referees as well as their wages," Oguda told Goal.

“This is a resolution which was reached after the meeting with the clubs' chairpersons. However, once we get the sponsor, we will refund the teams the money used on officials.”

However, Ambani has put the blame for the current mess on the officials who are leading the sport in the country, saying such a move will lead to match-fixing in the top-flight.

“Players are suffering, match officials the same. Fans too, when it reaches a point referees have to be paid by clubs, what does that show you. Match-fixing is boiling. It's hard, hard times,” Ambani wrote on his official Facebook page.

“We are faced with tough times in Kenyan football. Who is to blame? I blame the guys who have always been at the helm.

“Why? Let's start with SuperSport. We knew they were going. We had all the time in this world of sitting them down, talk to them, iron out our differences and continue with our business as it used to be. We became big-headed, we went on to chest thump, promised Kenyans we were shipping in our own machines.

“The machines are still high seas three years later. The little they were giving these clubs went far deep into helping these clubs financially. It sustained the clubs in one way or another. Then SportPesa. I think the football stakeholders could have formed a delegation to spearhead talks between the government and the betting company.

“That's FKF and KPL combined. Showing them how much the three needed each other in the development of sports in the country could have gone a long way in rescuing the situation. I am sure they could have come into agreement. Something tangible could have come out from the talks. It’s called persistent talks.

“So much to be discussed and be done from club level to the national office, if only they can listen to people who know exactly what’s to be done. So many ideas to be discussed and if implemented, we shall be a footballing nation.”

Earlier on Thursday, the KPL announced the league will continue despite calls by several clubs to postpone it owing to financial struggles.