The fate of the final quarter release of funds to Uganda Premier League (UPL) remains in the dark after Fufa abruptly ended the 2019/20 season, citing uncertainty over resumption following President Museveni’s extending of the lockdown to next month.
Interestingly, broadcast sponsors – StarTimes - were not formally notified of Fufa’s executive decision before the federation went public on Wednesday to invoke 75 per cent rule in the competitions regulations and declare Vipers champions among others.
StarTimes, who are running a 10-year Shs27b broadcast deal of the competition, had already disbursed the first three quarters, and were due to release the final cut of about Shs20m per topflight club at the completion of the season, as per the contract.
“I won’t comment on money release because we are not aware of the closure of the league,” StarTimes brand and marketing manager Isma Lule disclosed to Sunday Monitor, “This will be decided in the discussion that Fufa will hold with StarTimes.” According to UPL board chairman Arinaitwe Rugyendo, however, “as per the disbursement plan, the fourth quarter is to be paid within 30 days after the conclusion of the league”. The league is deemed to have concluded on Wednesday.
Fifa relief hope
As UPL await a way forward, the league board is keeping their fingers crossed after Fufa forwarded their relief request of close to Shs1b to Fifa. Faced with uncertainties caused by Covid-19, the UPL early this month wrote to Fufa asking if they could at least partially benefit from the $500,000 (Shs1.9b) grant Fifa released to its member associations to help them counter the virus-induced distress.
The UPL letter details clubs’ needs to pay salaries for at least the next three months, as well as the secretariat operations and wages, all amounting to over a billion shillings. But Fufa president Moses Magogo reiterated on Wednesday the Shs1.9b fund from Fifa was just advance payment of the quarter that was to come in July, and it was to clear Fufa staff salaries, operations and service providers. “And we have cleared all to zero balance,” he said.
Regarding the UPL request, however, “The decision of the executive committee is that Fufa has used the same information to provide data to Fifa for the probable fund yet to come,” explained Magogo.
“When a response is received from Fifa, definitely we will come out and communicate it. Fifa has assured us of specific support and that it will be very soon.”
UPL chairman Rugyendo, who together with his team met the Fufa executive over a fortnight ago on the same matter, is optimistic “We are thankful Fufa has escalated it to Fifa. So we are hopeful.”
The expected Fifa relief to stakeholders from needy countries will cover all levels recognized by member associations. In Uganda, for example, all levels from the fifth division upward stand to benefit.
StarTimes seasonal disbursements to the UPL & Big League
2018/19 – 2021/22: $680,000
(Shs2.38b) per season
2022/23 – 2025/26: $730,000
(Shs2.55b) per season
2026/27 – 2027/28: $800,000
(Shs2.8b) per season
Expected final quarter release per
topflight club: Shs20m