Recently, I wrote an article about the situation surrounding Ugandan football and in particular the deal that was between FUFA, Uganda Premier League and its partnership with television broadcaster StarTimes.
The deal that was signed was to have the Uganda Premier League and StarTimes enter a partnership for ten seasons at a fee of UGX 27 billion shillings to become the official partners and broadcasters of the league.
This ideally means that the clubs will each receive season money of about UGX 60 million shillings and perhaps a little more.
What is challenging about this deal is that it was signed by parties FUFA, UPL and StarTimes which had a clause in it that hinders the clubs from signing sponsorship deals with other competitors. A case in point, Kirinya FC or Oduparanka FC can’t sign a deal with Azam TV who StarTimes views as a rival in the market.
It is also amusing how Azam’s advertising on a club’s jersey will affect StarTimes given that it is the one with sole broadcasting rights to the league.
Being a sole broadcaster means that most of the people who would be interested in watching the league on television would only be able to do so on StarTimes decoders.
Already we are witnessing a backlash as Express FC and one Multi Choice brand, GoTv could be on the verge of signing a deal. GoTV would incidentally be a shirt sponsor and this is something that StarTimes doesn’t want.
In today’s press release, the head of Marketing Aldrine Nsubuga who has always talked about every party coming on board to help the sport grow and become professional in Uganda, came out to slam the potential deal between Express and GoTv.
Nsubuga also pointed out that should Express go ahead and sign a contract with GoTv, then StarTimes TV will have no choice but to pull out of the contract as it will be considered violation of the agreement.
The new CEO of the club, Kiryowa Kiwanuka in his response via Twitter stated that “We Express FC have made every effort to remain quiet, civil and professional against all manner of provocation. While StarTimes Uganda has its responsibility to its shareholders, we also have a responsibility to Express FC Uganda. We should try to work together for football”
“While it would be unfortunate for StarTimes Uganda to cancel the 10 year “deal”, we shall not be cowed into submission in respect to unprincipled discussions. A problem actually exists and a solution should be sought. We Express FC do not take too well to threats” – He added
“Therefore, we humbly request and strongly suggest that these unprovoked media outbursts from StarTimes Uganda should immediately cease and instead meaningful discussions should be had to address the challenges in the contract” – Kiryowa said.
It should however be noted that, two other clubs were on the verge of signing sponsorship deals with pay television providers in Kwese and Azam TV.
The big question now is, “Is StarTimes really here to help the brand of Ugandan football to grow or are they here to serve their own selfish interests?”
In a league where we still have clubs using players that aren’t even on contract, one would assume that any partnership would be welcomed with open arms otherwise we risk having a situation where the league has two giant clubs with funds and so many mediocre clubs scrapping for bread crumbs.
It is not uncommon for two competitors to enter into partnerships with different entities with the English Premier League being a good example since it is sponsored by Barclays while Aldrine Nsubuga’s beloved Liverpool is sponsored by Standard Chartered bank.
StarTimes TV is welcome to broadcast the league and even regulate who airs and highlights the matches, but they should allow the clubs to partner with whoever they can for the good of the game.
Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Associate at the Uganda Child Cancer Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!