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Inside Fufa-USLL deal and the questions

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Sports Minister Bakkabulindi, whose name has been synonymous with the storm between Fufa and the USL, engaging the warring factions in his office. The Minister has chaired meetings on end to make the two reach a deal .PhotoS by R. Mabala 

By ANDREW MWANGUHYA

Posted  Friday, March 14   2014 at  20:01

In Summary

An imminent truce: The 2014/15 league starting August shall be called the Uganda Premier League, with Fufa retaining authority on the football side and the USLL secretariat running the commercial bit of the topflight competition.

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As news of Uganda Super League Limited (USLL) and Fufa Limited - as represented in their MoU - agreeing to work together regarding the topflight competition filtered through last weekend, more questions became more apparent than answers.

That MoU that will see the USLL control the commercialisation of the ‘Uganda Premier League’ starting with the 2014/15 season, and Fufa retaining authority on all things football side, including assigning match officials, implementing rules and ensuring clubs honour contractual obligations among others, was signed last Friday.

The two-year understanding, in which USLL sponsors - SuperSport - are entered as partners, will see the television company disburse funds to clubs, match officials and Fufa through the federation.

Sports state minister Charles Bakkabulindi, who has been accused of not doing enough to end sports wrangles in the country but insists he is, called the two parties to the table.

The MoU, one of several such ‘marriages’ we have witnessed since wrangles went through the roof when Fufa withdrew powers to run the topflight competition from the USL before the 2012/13 season, was signed between and by Fufa president Moses Magogo and USLL chairman Kavuma Kabenge at the ministry headquarters under the watchful eye of Bakkabulindi.

The pact, which could be updated here and there as the two officials representing the 16 topflight clubs – KCCA’s Mike Okua and SCVU’s Simo Dubajic – join Fufa and USLL to continue tying loose ends, will also see the USL and SuperSport harmonise fixtures for TV schedule as part of their responsibilities.

The most functional part in the deal, however, is the money, with SuperSport’s Shs13b ($5m) five-year deal with USLL still running - at least on paper - until the end of the 2016 season.

SCORE’s sneak peek into details of the MOU reveals that the USLL, previously retaining 35 per cent of revenues from SuperSport, will now retain five per cent less of that per year, with the other going to operation of its secretariat including rent, salaries, communication and stadia among others. USLL will also pay Fufa $60,000 per year for remuneration of match officials.

After deduction of the above, USLL will pay 10 per cent per year from the remaining sharable revenue for football development activities, with the other 90 per cent distributed amongst topflight clubs.

One wonders why it has taken these grown-ups this long to admit it was mainly money or lack of ‘sharing-the-loot mechanisms’ that saw them fool just about everyone that breakdown of rules or deviation from rules was the primary cause of the wrangles.

Bakkabulindi, whose ministry (including all those that came before him since the now outdated Sports Act was put in 1964) has not helped wrangles in failing to institute sports governance instruments, actually believes it has always been money.

“It was not the governance issues per se because we have had the 1964 Act and there were more wrangles then, but it was money (from sponsors) disturbing these two groups. Now that we have addressed that, we are hopeful this will be fixed and the regulations also instituted,” Bakkabulindi told SCORE.

In fact, that issuance of the Sports Act better be fast for it doesn’t matter what MoU(s) are signed, as long as governance issues are not addressed, court schedules will continue to flow and fights will not end.

Below we explore the unanswered questions that leave the new arrangement only on a shaky ground and give a chance to parties involved in the ongoing negotiations to explore all necessary avenues, including indulging government to implement the Sports Act.

Kabenge ban
All along Fufa, who slapped an 11-year ban on Kabenge for apparently breaking football rules when he failed to appear before a Fufa disciplinary committee in 2012, refused to enter into any talks with the USLL chairman saying they could notdeal with a banned official. To date, that ban on Kabenge still stands. Actually, two years down and nine to go.

The battle of illegalities
The two – Fufa Ltd and USLL - are currently in court over the legality of the federation, with a Parliamentary report into their findings into the aforementioned also expected anytime now. Fufa have also been insistent, actually are still insistent, that the USL are outlawed as operators of the league. So how does this work? Do USLL withdraw the court cases? “No.
Those are legal issues and we shall leave them to courts to decide,” said Kabenge. Fufa, in an official communication on the ongoing talks, have in fact carefully worded it as “sponsorship negotiations.”
Bakka’s escape route?

Bakkabulindi responded to this writer’s weekly column on Thursday denying that the Constitutional Court finding him in its contempt for aiding Fufa Ltd activities against an issued temporary injunction last year had forced his arm, which in turn forced Magogo and Kabenge’s to pen this MoU.

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