What's next for FKF-PL teams? Closure of stadiums comes with challenges

Sports CS Ababu Namwamba

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba (centre) hands over the stadiums renovation project to Defence Principal Secretary Peter Mariru (left) as Sports Principal Secretary looks on at Nyayo National Stadium on September 19, 2023. 

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Muhoroni Youth and Murang’a Seal can't host high-risk matches involving Gor, AFC Leopards and Shabana due to the current state of Muhoroni Stadium and St Sebastian Park respectively.

The planned closure of Kenya’s premier sports facility -  the Moi International Sports Centre (MISC), Kasarani and Nyayo National Stadium for renovation has lifted the lid on the dilemma the Football Kenya Federation and local teams face in hosting high risk FKF Premier League matches.

MISC Kasarani is homeground for 19-time Kenyan champions Gor Mahia, while 12-time league winners AFC Leopards host their home matches at Nyayo National Stadium. Both clubs must seek alternative venues for their remaining matches in the  2023/24 FKF Premier League matches.

On Tuesday, Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Youth Affairs and the Arts, handed over the two facilities to the Kenya Defence Forces to oversee their renovation after a successful tendering process.

The renovation exercise starts after this weekend's fourth round of matches.

Jamhuri Sports Complex in Nairobi and Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret have also been closed for renovation till June next year. 

Nyayo National Stadium, MISC Kasarani,and Kipchoge Keino will be renovated as part of Kenya’s joint bid to co-host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations with Uganda and Tanzania.

At the start of the season, FKF released fixtures with venues for all the 306 matches except five - Muhoroni Youth’s home matches against AFC Leopards, Gor Mahia, and Shabana, and Murang’a Seal’s home games against AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia - which were to be confirmed later.

This is because the matches are categorised as high risk due to the big crowd the three community clubs attract.

Twelve of the 18 teams competing in the 2023/24 FKF PL are based in Nairobi and the metropolitan region.

This means 204 out of 306 matches are staged in Nairobi.

MISC Kasarani and Nyayo National Stadium were scheduled to host 136 games but with 16 already played (inclusive of this weekend’s fourth round matches), FKF and league teams involved must find venues for the remaining 120 matches which were to be staged at the two facilities.

Of the remaining matches this season after this weekend’s fourth round, Kasarani Annex was to host 35, with 47 being held at the main Kasarani Stadium, while 38 were to be staged at Nyayo.

The Nairobi metropolitan teams in the topflight league are Bidco United, Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Kariobangi Sharks, FC Talanta, Ulinzi Stars, Nairobi City Stars, Sofapaka, Posta Rangers, KCB, Kenya Police and Tusker.

City Stadium, which was previously used by K'Ogalo as home ground has also been closed for renovation by Nairobi County Government.

The closure is likely to force FKF to use some of the venues earlier earmarked as training grounds to host KPL games.

The venues likely to host matches after the closure of Nyayo and MISC Kasarani include Kenya Police’s Police Sacco Stadium in South ‘B’ in Nairobi, Kirigiti Stadium in Kiambu, Thika Stadium, and Ulinzi Sports Complex in Nairobi.

In some cases, some Nairobi-based clubs may be forced to move some home matches to Homa Bay (Raila Odinga Stadium), Kakamega (Bukhungu Stadium), and even Taita-Taveta (Danson Mwanyumba Stadium).

Muhoroni Youth and Murang’a Seal can't host high-risk matches involving Gor, AFC Leopards and Shabana due to the current state of Muhoroni Stadium and St Sebastian Park respectively.

Taita-Taveta (Danson Mwanyumba Stadium). Afraha Stadium in Nakuru County and Kericho Green Stadium are currently closed for renovation, which  further complicates matters.

Gor Mahia CEO Ray Oruo said they have applied to host their matches at Raila Odinga Stadium in Homa Bay, Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium in Kisumu and Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, as well as Police Sacco Stadium in Nairobi’s South C.

Oruo says despite Gor Mahia’s matches being classified as high risk, the number of the club’s fans attending matches has reduced thus the team can play anywhere.

Leopards will likely move their games to Ulinzi Sports Complex, Bukhungu or Kirigiti Stadium in Kiambu County.