Uganda Super League: GTV Deal a Real Deal
For a long time now, most football players in Uganda have been signing contracts with clubs without the consent of their governing federation.
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First published: September 25, 2007
There is an old adage about closing doors. It says that when one door is closed to you, God will always open another for you. Fortune has a habit of striking just when you are about to lose all hope. Ramathan Kasozi observes that this adage perfectly describes the current situation in which Ugandan football finds itself. In the past, it was necessary for players from various clubs to strike over salary arrears and club bosses would at times fail to transport their players to some engagements around the country. Not any more. God has sent them a Good Samaritan in the form of GTV, a television company. GTV has unveiled a fat package of 8.4 billion Uganda shillings.
In a renewable sponsorship deal that runs up to 2011, GTV provides each Super Division club with 32 million shillings annually to help in game preparations. Credit goes to Mr. Lawrence Mulindwa, the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) President and his marketing department who are honouring his (Mulindwa's) 2005 election manifesto pledges. In his manifesto, Mulindwa promised to save the drowning game of football in Uganda by luring back sponsors, professionalising the Super League by 2009, bringing back local fans to the stadia and guiding the Cranes, Uganda's national team to the Ghana 2008 African Cup of Nations finals. Having notched 11 points in their campaign, the Cranes are now awaiting the results from the last batch of qualifying games in West Africa to find out if they have made it to Ghana.
The GTV sponsorship package comes shortly after another deal in which FUFA lured back telecommunications giants, Mobile Telecommunications Network (MTN), to sponsor the national team. The Uganda Cranes received over 400 million Uganda shillings from MTN in the run up to defeating the Nigerian national team, the Red Eagles by 2-1 at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole on 2nd June 2007. For a while, companies had shunned associating with Ugandan football and the Super League has for two consecutive years run without a sponsor, following the corruption scandals of former FUFA president Denis Obua's regime.
To ensure smooth accountability for the sponsorship package and professional running of Ugandan football, Mulindwa has stressed that all Super League clubs are now supposed to sign legal contracts fully endorsed by FUFA with their players. For a long time now, most football players in Uganda have been signing contracts with clubs without the consent of their governing federation.
Among the key highlights of the GTV sponsorship package, all clubs will get prize money for completing the season, with the winner bagging 26 million Uganda shillings, while the club at the bottom will be relegated to the First Division with at least a million Uganda shillings for pocket money. This is the first time in Uganda's footballing history for a relegated side to depart with a reward. The player of the year and golden boot winners will share a prize of 16 million Uganda shillings, each club will have at least two of its fixtures broadcast live across Africa and Europe, while 16 million Uganda shillings are allocated to the development of the game in the country.
All said, even with a juicy package in the bag, Mulindwa faces an uphill task in ensuring that the money is put to proper use. There is growing worry that club officials might borrow a leaf from some notorious officials of Uganda's Ministry of Health Global Fund money that was intended to combat HIV, malaria and tuberculosis was diverted to fund personal businesses. All this calls for FUFA to set standards that not only ensure that clubs have honourable leadership but also posses proper management structures. It should be noted that several clubs including the newly promoted Nalubaale FC and Colonel Bell's Victors FC are run almost like personal businesses, whose owners are likely to view the GTV injection as personal profits.
Express FC players.
Key highlights of the GTV Super League sponsorship package.
- The total package comes to 8.4 billion Uganda shillings.
- Each club in the Super League to receive 32 million Uganda shillings for game preparations.
- Winning team to pocket 26 million Uganda shillings.
- All the 18 teams to win some monetary prize for completing the league.
- The top scorer and the player-of-the-year share 16 million Uganda shillings.
- Relegated teams depart with 1 million Uganda shillings.
- GTV to broadcast Super League and Kakungulu Cup football matches.
- Each club to have at least two matches broadcast across Africa and Europe.
- 26 million Uganda shillings go to the football grass roots for the development of the game in the country.
With the Uganda Cranes on the verge of returning to the African Cup finals after a three decade-long absence and all effort being made to return the local league back on course, Mulindwa's other uphill task is to lure Ugandan fans back into Ugandan stadia. If he can successfully conclude such a deal like the one he has made with GTV, do not belittle the management abilities of the St Mary's Kitende SSS proprietor.
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First published: September 25, 2007
Ramathan Kasozi is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. . A graduate Journalist, Kasozi has more than 5 years experience reporting on sports in Uganda for different print and broadcast media houses.