Why football clubs need sustainable funding

Monday February 3 2020

Uganda’s U17 team qualified for t

Uganda’s U17 team qualified for their first Afcon next year in Tanzania as Cecafa champions. BY JOHN BATANUDDE 

By Editorial

Success in life comes with different price tags set in currencies called sacrifice, persistence, determination and discipline, among others. The best sportsmen and franchises must put in discipline, training, extra hours and attract the best talent before popping the champagne.
So there is still work to do for Uganda Cranes if they are to ever reach the Africa Cup of Nations tournament final again, like it were in 1978 against the hosts Ghana’s Black Stars.
The stories of successful football nations such as Germany’s World Cup winning machine in Brazil six years ago was the reap after sowing from the failures of Euro 2000.
That also reminds us to learn from our mishaps. However, Uganda’s club football today has more challenges than successes, unfortunately. The Uganda Premier League (UPL) is grappling again with allegations of match fixing and bribery in West Nile’s Onduparaka, Tooro United of Fort Portal, and Wakiso Giants.
Allegations that Onduparaka was bribed to lose matches this season following their 7-1 trouncing of Kyetume FC, as well as Police FC’s 6-1 recent drabbing of Express FC in Lugogo have cast a spotlight again on the integrity of our league.
This has left many fans thinking that even when their teams lose some matches genuinely, there is a perception that they have been fixed.
Research statistics indicate that the country’s top-flight league grew from Shs5b in 2015 to Shs30b last year thanks to more money coming into clubs from the corporate world.
And that could have some backing. UPL’s current television broadcast deal is priced at $7.2m (Shs28.1b) in a 10-year contract signed in 2018.
However, that has not brought any significant growth to clubs. They still struggle to pay staff, clear arrears, among other needs. So where do clubs get their money from? A number of sponsorship deals with UPL clubs even other sports in Uganda are not genuine.
Vipers has sourcing from St Mary’s SS Kitende and KCCA is backed by the city authority. Police, URA and Bul are institutional clubs too but are they all well-funded by the mother bodies they hail from?
And notwithstanding the logos on the jerseys, how does Kyetume FC sustain a nine-month season cost? What is the right source of funding for Tooro, Wakiso Giants, Onduparaka and others? Were all referees arrears cleared?
Answers or not to these questions offer ground for rogue fellows to offer bribes to fix games. While Fufa has set up several committees to handle this, it needs to step-up on tackling the matter.
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