Kampala. It is over seven months since Sports Broadcasting Limited (SBL), were unveiled at Kampala Serena Hotel as new television sponsors for the Uganda Premier League (UPL), Uganda Cup and the Fufa Big League starting June 1.
The partnership valued at $3m (Shs10bn) between Fufa and UPL on one side plus SBL on the other, it was said, would run through to July 31, 2022 after the three year deal with Azam TV expired on May 31.
However, it looks like Fufa’s bold step to hand rights to air three major football competitions in the country to a company that will have to learn on the job, backfired miserably.
While the new deal promised a sharp increase of prize money and sponsorship clubs; say from Azam’s Shs56m to about Shs150m per season, it was questioned by clubs as there was no participation from their side.
SB consequently failed to meet requirements in their end of the bargain by the July 31 deadline thereby fully paving way for a new interested party to take over.
No bidding process
“There was no bidding process so it was easy for us to take the rights,” a source close to SBL told us.
“This was a brilliant deal for us but our shareholders had some financial complications that could not let us kick off so Fufa cancelled the deal. Actually we had to start by broadcasting the Fufa Super 8 but we could not get the required manpower or even get equipment for production,” our source added.
Attempts to speak to Fufa were futile as our meeting with them was fixed for today (Thursday).
SBL, a television company with a license to produce content but not broadcast, was believed to be exploring options of getting a channel off one of the Pay TV companies or have the games shown on a free-to-air channel or a local television.
The last option could only work if SB met production needs. In addition to that, a free-to-air channel, according to another source that understands the market, could not make business sense as just over 500,000 Ugandans own free-to-air decoders.
SB was meant to be the fourth television entity to acquire rights to broadcast the local league but putting their content on one of the current digital platforms would be hard paper.
GTV acquired those rights first in 2011 but are now defunct. South Africa’s SuperSport acquired them too in 2011 but left Ugandan football with a bitter taste before the five year deal could expire.
Azam for reasons known to them did not even attempt to renew when the rights acquired in 2015 expired.
That leaves StarTimes but those are rumoured to have their own interests in this.