We’ll pay players for now, say clubs as virus threat worsens

Wednesday March 25 2020

Down but not out. KCCA FC senior officials,

Down but not out. KCCA FC senior officials, including the Authority executive director Andrew Kitaka (C) and Ashaba (R) during a league game. Photo by John Batanudde 

By Andrew Mwanguhya

A representation of StarTimes Uganda Premier League (SUPL) clubs are pledging to honour their players’ contracts and pay all their dues end this month.
The world is at war with a concealed but painfully felt enemy in form of coronavirus that has afflicted over 300,000 people globally and killed at least 10,000.

Uganda had by press time yesterday registered nine cases but no death recorded.
This mess has seen several countries employ strict measures to contain the pandemic, with Uganda banning mass gatherings and sports events, among others.
As a result, several games and events are suspended, and inactivity means little or no assured steady flow of income.

Reviews inevitable
Football clubs, like the rest of the world, now have to face reality of deciding to continue paying players, casual staff et al or review status and obligations in light of the current global turbulence.
“In the immediate term, sure, we’ll pay the players and staff,” KCCA vice chairman Aggrey Ashaba told Daily Monitor, “But in the medium term, we have to evaluate the impact of the global disorder.”

On player contracts, with some running out at the end of the season, Ashaba said, “We’ll evaluate when we can see the impact as there are many unknowns currently. But for renewals, acquisitions, values will depend on prevailing conditions of that day.”
On casual staff such as those that work on match days, he said that problem solves itself as they only work on match days.

“This is not just about footballers. Its knock-on effect goes to media who will lose jobs, impacting on household incomes,” Ashaba said, explainign that the disorder will affect demand due to job loss, leading to a rise in crime and substance abuse.
“It’s time the government gave rebates/tax deductions to companies supporting sport, tax waivers to clubs and redirection of youth funds,” Ashaba said.
State minister for Sports Hamson Obua had not reacted to our request to respond to the calls for tax exemptions by the time we went to press.
Meanwhile, Ashaba urged people to “first stay safe” and support those who will be in need.

“Without life, nothing else matters. In this case, the change agents are not the medical personnel, it’s me and you. Hospitals will only come in to treat. Let’s follow the guidelines of the president and Ministry of Health to prevent contagion.”
League leaders Vipers SC have also assured their players they will not be deserted. “Even during the off-season, everyone on the Vipers SC payroll is fully paid,” club publicist Abdu Wasike said.
“The coronavirus pandemic has hit us hard but nothing to do. We will follow the guidelines put out. We had resumed training last week but we had to call it off as we study the situation.”


Gate collections hit
Wakiso Giants head of corporate affairs Ismael Kiyonga also says their players should not worry as their salaries are budgeted for a full season.
“We have closed business for non-staff during but if the situation doesn’t normalise within the 32 days, we might be forced to revise our other non-technical areas of operations,” said Kiyonga.

However, some clubs are synonymous with non-payment to their players, and asking whether they will clear end of this month can only draw a blank stare.
Among other areas inactivity is costing clubs, who are still suffering the brunt of a stand-off between sponsors StarTimes, Fufa and UPL that has delayed their third quarter funds release, is gate collections.

KCCA, for example, earns Shs300m per season from gate collection, with their best game being a continental fixture against St George in 2018, where they grossed Shs59m at Lugogo. A game at Lugogo averages 6,000 people in attendance.
Vipers game against KCCA this season at the over 15,000-capacity St Mary’s Kitende remains their best attended, with Wasike saying they collected about Shs70m, with low days garnering between Shs10-20m.