The future of newly promoted national football league side Pepiniere FC looks uncertain as the club grapples with financial woes.
Pepiniere FC and Eastern Province-based Kirehe FC were promoted to the first division for the first time in their history. The two replaced AS Muhanga and Rwamagana City, which were relegated at the end of last season.
Kigali-based Pepiniere FC won the second division league beating Kirehe in the final; however, planning for life in the first division has started in the worst possible way that the club may struggle to even assemble a sustainable squad.
The club, which currently trains at FERWAFA grounds in Remera, has failed to get any sponsors leaving the club without a budget to work with for the 2016/17 season, according to the club president, Jean Marie Munyankumburwa.
“We don’t have a sponsor… the club will remain under the support of its members like it has been in the second division as we continue the search for sponsors,” Munyankumburwa told Times Sport in an interview on Thursday.
He further admitted that, “We may not be able to pay the players a monthly salary the way other teams in top flight do, but of course they will be given some allowances.”
After the promotion to top flight division, the club appointed former Rayon Sports coach Jean-Baptiste Kayiranga as their new head coach. Munyankumburwa has said that despite their dire financial situation, Pepiniere FC’s main goal is to avoid a return to the second division at the first time of asking.
Meanwhile, Munyankumburwa revealed that, after getting promoted, Muhanga District expressed interest in taking over Pepiniere FC on condition that it changes the name to Muhanga FC, a condition that the former declined.
“The idea is not a bad one, but we insisted that if we don’t retain our name as Pepiniere FC, we would at least go with ‘Pepiniere Muhanga FC’ but they rejected our suggestion hence the failure to reach any agreement,” he explained.
The official noted, “Pepiniere has been in existence for nine years and we cannot allow to get rid of it, however; one thing I can promise our fans is that the club will survive in the national league despite the difficulties.”
The club has signed two players so far including midfielder Kevin Ishimwe from Rayon Sports and Ugandan forward Joseph Lubega from SC Villa.