Leopards in trouble again as court orders club to pay ex-player Sh1.3 million

AFC Leopards Chairman Dan Shikanda during an interview with Nation Sport at the club's offices in Nairobi on September 19,  2020.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The Employment court ordered Leopards to pay its former midfielder John Wonder Odongo a total of Sh1,303,000.
  • Of the total sum, Sh720,000 is a year’s pay for unfair termination;  Sh60,000 is a month’s payment in lieu of notice; Sh200,000 is the outstanding sign-on fee; Sh22,000 is for win allowances and Sh301,000 is in salary arrears.

Football Kenya Federation Premier League side AFC Leopards has been ordered to pay Sh1.3 million to a player it fired in August 2020 when sporting activities were paused as a Covid-19 containment measure.

The Employment court ordered Leopards to pay its former midfielder John Wonder Odongo a total of Sh1,303,000.

Of the total sum, Sh720,000 is a year’s pay for unfair termination;  Sh60,000 is a month’s payment in lieu of notice; Sh200,000 is the outstanding sign-on fee; Sh22,000 is for win allowances and Sh301,000 is in salary arrears.

“Interest on (the Sh1,303,000) is allowed at court rates, from the date of judgment (December 10), till payment is made in full,” said Justice James Rika.

Odongo filed the case in November 2020, and Leopards did not respond to it.

In papers filed before the court in Nairobi, he said he was signed by Leopards on August 13, 2019. It was to be a three-year contract and he was to be paid Sh60,000 a month.

“He states that he played with passion and diligence,” the judge said as he summarised Odongo’s plaint.

“On or around August 23, 2020, he received a phone call from AFC Leopard’s offices, to collect his letter of termination. He availed himself and was handed a release letter, authored by the club’s secretary, dated August 24, 2020. It was alleged that release was by ‘mutual agreement’. The claimant rejected the letter, as he had not agreed with the club to terminate his contract as suggested in the letter,” the judge wrote.

Odongo told the court that the club admitted to owing him at least Sh643,000 in arrears but it declined to pay him, which is why he sued them.

After hearing Odongo, the judge was satisfied that his case warranted court intervention.

“The (termination) letter states untruthfully, that the claimant had been released by the Respondent, through ‘mutual agreement.’ There is no evidence at all that the termination was consensual,” stated the judge.

“The termination was unfair. There were no disciplinary or performance-related issues, raised by the club against the claimant, leading to termination. There was no hearing of any colour, hue, or form. The claimant was just slammed with a letter addressed to ‘whom it may concern,’ terminating his contract of employment. Termination did not meet the basic standards of fairness under Sections 41, 43 and 45 of the Employment Act 2007,” he added.

The judge observed that the player expected to play with Leopards until July 31, 2022 as per the contract.

“The claimant expected to play football for AFC Leopards, to the end of his contract,” said the judge. “He was paid nothing on termination.”

The 28-year-old midfielder has previously played for Mathare United and Vihiga United.

This is not the first case involving unfair termination of contracts at Leopards.

The club was until two months ago serving a transfer ban imposed by world governing body, Fifa, after failing to play former coach Andre Cassa Mbungo and a host of players after terminating their contracts.


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