KAMPALA-The Uganda Premier League (UPL) board is expected to sit today to agree on the way forward regarding broadcast and title sponsors, StarTimes, areas of concern in their 10-year contract.
StarTimes, Fufa and UPL have been on a low-key standoff since the sponsors withheld the third quarter release of funds for league operations.
Daily Monitor understands that the cause of the standoff is interpretation of a section in the contract about display of ad content on pitchside advertising boards.
The sponsors duly released the first two quarters of July-September and October-December in the first round of the league. But the penultimate third quarter for January-March, which was supposed to have been wired by February 3, remains pending – leaving both the UPL secretariat and the 16 clubs at sea.
Asked about the delays in February, UPL chief executive Bernard Bainamani told Daily Monitor that among the areas in the contract they wanted reviewed when they met with the sponsors was for the payments to be done by or on 1st of every month of every quarter.
“That is how it has been. It is now that the delay has come about, although according to the contract they are still within the payment period (within 30 days after the due date),” Bainamani said at the time.
Fufa, UPL and StarTimes eventually met a week ago and several issues were raised by parties, with the sponsors tasking Fufa to fix gaps from its side and revert with a way forward.
“It is actually not a question of money being available,” StarTimes branding and marketing manager Isma Lule told Daily Monitor yesterday.
“And it is not about the sponsor, it is just a contractual dispute; some few elements in the contract to be fulfilled by our partners for us to come through. It is really something small. I’m confident we will resolve it.”
Tetchy issue for sponsors
StarTimes are frustrated that Fufa/UPL denied their agents from placing boards for UNAIDS – their partners in the fight against HIV using football – at football matches yet, they argue, the contract provides for that.
“We have a right to allow our partners display their messages in our contractual 51.7 per cent,” said Lule, “last season we advertised for some of our partners, what’s different now? But like I said, we should be able to sort this out and money will be disbursed as per the contract.”
However, Fufa say that the part being cited by StarTimes only provided for the sponsors’ own advertisement.
“That was it,” said Rogers Byamukama, Fufa marketing and communications committee chairman.
“And while they have a percentage of advertising on pitch-side boards, that was for their own brand advertising, it did not cover third parties, and if they had to have third parties, they had to consult us (Fufa) and UPL, which they did not do.”
Fufa and UPL also expressed dissatisfaction at StarTimes for withholding money because “these were operational issues that could be worked on as other processes continued.”
Byamukama, however, remains optimistic. “Like StarTimes told you, this is really a small issue. Let the UPL board meet tomorrow and we should be able to resolve it. We all want a progressive relationship,” he added.
StarTimes, Fufa and the league in August 2018 entered a 10-year deal worth $7.2m (Shs27b) to broadcast the competition.
For every quarterly payment UPL secretariat receive, 10 per cent goes to Fufa and $20,000 (Shs73m) to referees – through the FA, and the rest goes towards the 16 clubs and league administration.
2018/19 – 2021/22: Shs2.38b per season
2022/23 – 2025/26: Shs2.55b per season
2026/27 – 2027/28: Shs2.8b per season