Regional stadiums host key match week five fixtures
Match week five of the Ethiopian Premier League (EPL) is set to take place across the country this weekend. From the standout fixtures, Mekele City will host Welwalo Adigrat University while Hawassa City faces Sidama Coffee and Sebeta play against Fasil City.
The last fixtures of the 2019 calendar year will be staged mostly in regional stadiums. Placed second on the league, Mekele City faces a stern test from a visiting Welwalo Adigrat University side, which currently tops the table. Mekele, having played four league games, have collected seven points managing to win 2 matches, drawing one and losing one.
Welwalo, currently on form, have won three of their opening matches dropping only two points, topping the league with 10 points. Managed by former national team Coach Yohannes Sahle drew with St. George in Addis Ababa Stadium.
The Tigray derby, between Mekele City and Welwalo, even though early in the season, will be decisive to take command of the league.
In another derby, Hawassa City is preparing to host Sidama Coffee. Placed fifth on the league table with six points, Hawassa have won two matches, drawn one and lost one. Meanwhile, Sidama Coffee has managed to win two matches, draw two and is placed six on the table. Sidama, lost to Mekele City 2-1 ending a consecutive unbeaten home form.
On the contrary, struggling to maintain a consistent run of form since last season, 14 title winners St. George take on Jimma City. The horsemen have only managed to win one match, and drawing the rest. Placed eighth with six points, it is crucial to win the match against Jimma who are flirting with relegation with only three points to show for.
In other news, several clubs are faced with a financial crisis and players are also complaining about monthly salary payouts, The Reporter has learnt. It is to be recalled that, the Sports Commission, the Ethiopian Football Federation and Club representatives agreed on a salary cap of 50,000 birr per month. Following the final discussions held, 12 EPL clubs agreed on the proposed salary cap.
Nonetheless, various players are complaining about the salary cap and some club players are even resisting to play for their clubs. It is rumored that many clubs have signed players based on a mutual agreement without a salary cap. Sources told The Reporter that several clubs have not paid players a salary for three to five months. From 16 participating clubs, Bahir Dar City, Welwalo, Hossana Hadiya, Adama City and Suhul Shire have not paid three and five months’ salary. In this regard, four of Suhul Shire players have opted not to travel with the team. It was stated that club administrators were unable to solve the problem and due to this reason, in collaboration with Players Association, the players are planning to take the issue to the courts. According to EFF deputy president Awol Abduramin, they are taking considerations to solve the problem, in the coming weeks, after holding discussions with the clubs.
It is to be recalled that, the decision to implement a salary cap came due to an improper financial flow going towards players. A research conducted found out that many clubs were unable to balance their annual budget leading them into crisis. It was pointed out that millions of birr is spent on salary, transportation and hotel expenses.
According to the research, all clubs across the country spend about 2.2 billion birr a year. Mainly funded by the government, clubs depend on the budget allotted to them. More than 95 percent of EPL clubs expenses are funded by the government since they are managed by City Administrations.
It is to be recalled that in the 2018/19 EPL season, Dedebit Football club announced that it will not participate in the league due to financial problems. The club mentioned that it is unable to cover the clubs expenses including players’ monthly salaries and benefits.
Week five EPL fixtures
Woliata Dicha vs. Wolkite City
Suhul Shire vs. Adama City
Hawasa City vs. Sidama Coffee
Jimma City vs. St. George
Dire Dawa City vs. Ethiopia Coffee
Hadiya Hossana vs. Bahir Dar
Sebeta City vs. Fasil City
Mekele City vs. Welwalo Adigrat University