The Uganda Premier League (UPL) secretariat should be receiving the third quarter disbursement of funds from StarTimes anytime now after the title and broadcast sponsors and Fufa ended a temporary standoff.
StarTimes Brand and marketing manager Isma Lule confirmed to Daily Monitor yesterday that the meeting they held with their partners at Fufa House in Mengo on Tuesday was a fruitful one.
“We all agreed to tie the loose ends and then we shall be good to go,” said Lule.
“If both parties fulfill their duties this week, we should be disbursing the money. One guarantee at least is that the money will be disbursed before the end of the month.”
The development is a timely boost especially to clubs and match officials who are reeling from the brunt of a coronavirus-enforced league break.
The government last week banned all gatherings and events of more than ten people, including sporting activities, as one of the measures to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. The global pandemic has virtually brought the world to its knees with national leagues and major sporting events such as Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Euro 2020 championships, Afcon qualifies and Chan finals, as well as tennis, Formula One, all affected. The suspension of the StarTimes Uganda Super League, in particular, has left clubs looking to prayers and hope as financial obligations such as paying players salaries glowers at them like a hungry vampire.
Players rely on match bonuses while some match officials also heavily look to their activities on and off the pitch during match days to keep their domestic end of the bargain.
Each of the 16 top-flight clubs is entitled to about Shs70m a season, while the referees also receive the same amount.
Point of departure
This publication understands that StarTimes and Fufa, who represent the clubs through UPL in this contract, agreed that they sort out all documentation as soon as possible this week. The point of temporary departure in this 10-year deal signed in 2018 was Fufa contesting StarTimes displaying pitch side boards of third parties at games.
While StarTimes argued that they had a right to display their partners as part of their 51.7 per cent rights in the contract, Fufa said that still, the FA and UPL had to be notified first before anything of that nature happened.
The fallout came when Fufa/UPL denied StarTimes agents from placing boards for UNAIDS – their partners in the fight against HIV/Aids using football – at league matches.
This resulted in StarTimes, who duly released the first two quarters of July-September and October-December in the first round of the league, withholding the penultimate third quarter for January-March, which was due February 3. The three parties have been playing ping pong since, twice meeting before this last one on Tuesday. The Tuesday meeting, according to our trusted sources, resolved in unison that going forward, StarTimes will notify Fufa of any third party engagements for guidance before going public.
StarTimes wrote to Fufa to that effect yesterday, and as to how fast money will be deposited on UPL account will depend on how quickly Fufa respond to StarTimes notice.
“Once all is done, we have no problem with depositing the money even now,” said StarTimes’ Lule.
Speaking to Daily Monitor after the meeting on Tuesday, Fufa president Moses Magogo also said; “There is no major discrepancy that should cause any worries. I am confident we will agree on a way forward.”
There was also the small matter of Sanyuka TV - StarTimes’ outsourced production company, announcing MTN as the league’s official broadcast sponsors, instead of ‘airtime sponsors’ but Lule says “that has since been resolved.”
StarTimes, Fufa and the UPL in August 2018 entered a 10-year deal worth $7.2m (Shs27b) to broadcast the competition.
For every quarterly payment the UPL secretariat receives, 10 per cent goes to Fufa and after paying clubs and referees, the rest goes of the funding goes toward league administration and operations.