Lynette Matheka and Enock Amukhale
Reigning Women Premier League (WPL) champions, Vihiga Queens’ head coach Alex Alumira has denied reports that the team has lost its main sponsor Vihiga County, despite his charges going for about seven months without a salary.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that the county leadership led by Governor Wilbur Ottichilo had resolved to halt the sponsorship of their teams: Vihiga Queens, Vihiga United and a rugby team that landed sponsorship courtesy of Ottichilo’s predecessor Moses Akaranga.
However, Vihiga Deputy Governor Patrick Saisi has strongly dismissed reports.
Saisi who is county executive in charge of sports, gender and culture said those who are generating such information are just aiming to demoralize players from the two teams.
The Deputy Governor said the only challenge the county faces in supporting Vihiga United and Vihiga Queens is the legal status of their sponsorship.
He said the Auditor-General questioned the move to place the players in the county payroll.
He said the Auditor General indicated that players cannot be placed on the county payroll since they were not interviewed by the CPSB nor their jobs advertised as required by law.
“The Auditor-General further said the county cannot finance the clubs from development expenditures since the activities of the clubs were mainly recurrent expenditure,” he added.
He said the Auditor-General elaborated that the county cannot single handedly finance the clubs, hence there must be justification to show that other partners exist.
Saisi said as a remedy to the problem, Governor Wilber Ottichilo came up with a Sport Fund Act which was approved by the County Assembly to help support the teams.
He said a sports fund committee was formed to run a Sh30 million kitty by facilitating the two teams’ activities as required by the law.
Alumira maintains the women’s team is still receiving support from the county government adding that the salary delay is not new and they are eventually paid.
“What happened is that the county formed a sports board that will receive funds then distribute to the teams as per their budgets.
This, after the controller of budgets said that players shouldn’t be paid directly by the county seeing that they are not employees of the county as directed by the Public Service Commission,” said Alumira.
The tactician further argues that if they had lost the County’s support the teams would not be getting facilitation to honour their matches, which they did at the weekend as Vihiga United played to a barren draw away to Ulinzi Stars while Queens won 3-0 against Oserian.
“Speaking for the women’s side that I manage, the players are managing the situation and there is no disquiet.
Their salaries have been delayed before and eventually paid. They are hoping the same will be the case now,” he added.