As we are still trying to get our heads around the coronavirus pandemic, one of the biggest pandemics to Ugandan football strikes yet again with a proposed reduction of the league members from 16 to 12 teams per season.
This is not the first time that Magogo and team have tried to reduce the number of teams in the league to 12. In 2010, Magogo as the head of competitions committee for Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) which was being led by Lawrence Mulindwa invited a FIFA official and one of the major things to be discussed was trimming of the league from 14 teams to 12.
Mujib Kasule who is also the proprietor of Proline FC was very against this and said that should this be done, then all Ugandan football would be centered around Kampala or the central region.
After Kasule’s disagreement with the ploy, they all agreed not to reduce the the teams to 12 teams but to rather increase the number to 16 teams. This has been the case since 2011 to 2012 season.
What is the excuse FUFA is using to justify their decision?
Well, according to information gathered, they say that FUFA want to make the league more professional, competitive to make Uganda the best nation on the continent.
How reducing the teams from 16 to 12 will make the league even better is far beyond me, because what this is all going to mean is that teams will have to play a maximum of 3 matches each in order to make it last longer or even competitive.
Ideally, FUFA is looking to copy the concept or idea that Scotland Premier League is using of having 12 teams. But based on the justification they are using, then we also have to realize that Scotland is not the best country in Europe and neither do their players necessarily go on to join the best teams across Europe.
How will this decision affect clubs and players?
For starters, reducing the number of clubs to play in the league will make it hard for clubs from other regions outside Kampala, Wakiso and or central region to get into top-flight football.
Already we have seen how regions are starting to fall in love with Ugandan football because of seeing their own clubs make it to the top flight. A case in point is Onduparaka and Paida Black Angels from Arua, their participation in the Uganda Premier League brought life in Arua, not to mention the beauty of football rivalry when they played the derby games.
Mbarara City, Busoga United, Tooro United, these have all helped bring love to the game from different parts of the country.
To limit the league to just 12 teams would mean having so many of these upcountry teams fighting to enter into a league where it is full of elite clubs and survival becomes an even harder task. The federation risks being hated by fans from different regions as they would deem it an only Central Uganda tournament.
When you look at football players, many young players are using some of these lesser teams to build on their careers and get into clubs like URA, KCCA, Vipers, SC Villa among others.
The reduction of clubs would only make it hard for these players to break into top teams. I will not even go into the aspect of how these players will earn a living seeing as its employment for you.
FUFA is just making 1 step in the right direction when trying to take games like the Uganda cup final to different regions but this move would also mean the federation is taking several steps backward.
What can FUFA do to grow without having to reduce clubs?
I think that FUFA needs to work with Uganda Premier League and look at ways of developing the game and most especially grow the league to make it professional and attract more sponsors. Reducing the number of clubs is at this point, is the worst decision seeing as it is just growing.
The league needs a proper structure, systems that will govern it. Organization from the smallest bits to the biggest, division of labour needs to be serious because one person can’t be the one doing everything and expecting growth.
FUFA and UPL have done very little when it comes to marketing the league and it gets worse when you have to start thinking about how players are barely seen or noticed unless they are on the pitch.
I would think that UPL can discuss with the league sponsor Startimes on an agreement that allows them to share league highlights with various TV stations so as to attract more fans into the stadiums which will inevitably also mean that sponsors can tap into the growth of the league.
And for the love of God, who is being paid to update the social media pages, why is that person on salary anyway if I may ask?
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Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Manager at the Craft Silicon Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!