Stars doing just enough  to keep above the water

Bright Stars striker Nelson Ssenkatuka (R) tackles Express Captain Issa Lumu during their league match played at Wankulukuku on November 21, 2022. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO

What you need to know:

  • At about Shs660m spent last season, B. Stars overshot the annual budget by Shs126m
  • Of the targeted Shs534m in the 2022/23 budget, Stars collected Shs427m, a deficit of Shs107m 
  • 2023/24 target is Shs597m, with attracting more sponsors the key driver
  • Soltilo Uganda Limited, StarTimes, SEINAN, Yoshino Motors, Jica, Jibu, Melbet, Gorilla Field, Poire, kit sales and gate collections are revenue sources

Soltilo Bright Stars Chief Executive Officer Harold Atukwase is happy with the club’s "steady growth" but not with its prevailing financial state. 

The club have managed to prevail in top-flight survival gymnastics since promotion in 2013, establishing itself as a mid-table side.

Bright Stars, who added the prefix 'Soltilo" in 2017 when Japanese legend Keisuke Honda acquired a 70 per cent stake in the Club, also pulled off a first when they reached the Uganda Cup final two years later, losing it to Proline. 

The club are, however, still struggling to - not just break even, but keep the head above the water in the financial books.

Vision keeps them going

Like almost all Uganda Premier League (UPL) sides, the Kavumba-based outfit are operating in losses.

But it is the vision of "inspiring hope and belief in young people that their dreams can (one day) come to reality" that keeps them going. 

Of Bright Stars' Shs534m budget for the Financial Year 2022/23, for example, they realised Shs427m, over Shs100m short.

Yet the club spent about Shs660m to operate that season, having to figure out how to negotiate the excess spend. 

Shs336m of that went to salaries of some 28 senior players, 23 juniors, 18 non-playing staff and other employees in administration.

Bright Stars spend Shs55m per month (Shs28m of it on salaries) on transport facilitation, hosting home and away matches and feeding among other things. 

"Much as we are growing steadily," Atukwase explained to the Daily Monitor, "I am not happy with the current state. 

"Much as we have created a model that helps optimise resources, we are far from operating as a self-sustaining entity. 

Need for real home 

"We don’t make much from matchday revenue as compared to KCCA, Busoga and Villa. 

"Plans to move to a venue that can allow us to get much more media coverage for our events and one that is much more convenient for our target audience to access are underway."

Bright Stars have previously hosted their matches in Mwererwe - Matugga, but Kavumba Recreation Ground is their hired home for some good years now. 

"Our key development aspect for the next 10 years," said Atukwase, "is to secure a home that can allow us to grow in a more stable and sustainable way."

That the club do not make major player sales, a big revenue stream for sports sides, hardly helps Bright Stars balance sheet.

"We are yet to make considerable amounts from player sales," admitted Atukwase. 

"We have to tap into football's secondary markets in the Asian region and the monied African continent. At the moment we don’t have enough quality for Europe."

“Overall,” he added, “we are making peanuts compared to what we spend."

Double down on what works

Despite the challenges, the club CEO, Atukwase, believes that they are on the right track and that they have to double down on practices that will lead them to where they aspire to be. 

"We have to continue growing the club’s foot print in Uganda and beyond," he said. 

"We intend to grow to a 10,000-20,000 fans strong club over the next five to 10 years.

"We also have to foster stronger partnerships across the football fraternity especially with clubs from the first world (Europe, Asia and the Americas) to enable us to get certain economies of scale in the form of; player sales, technical training and staff exchanges (capacity building)."

Atukwase, also a sports lawyer, added: "We have to build strong youth structures (academy) to create a continuous talent pool. 

"Acquire for cheap, sale for big money considering the partnerships I talked about earlier." 

Push for more financing

For now, Bright Stars - who finished ninth in a 15-team table last season, could do with establishing themselves, consistently, in the top six to steadily boost their brand.

Off the pitch, having some deeper conversations with sponsors SEINAN, Yoshino Motors, Jica, Jibu, Melbet (replaced by Otani Steel this season), Gorilla Field, Poire to increase their kitty wouldn't hurt.

The above combined, together with Soltilo Uganda Limited, broadcast sponsors StarTimes, kit sales and gate collections could only raise Shs427m of last year's Shs534m budget. 

Brightstars team. PHOTO/ EDDIE CHICCO


Soltilo Bright Stars club structure


Chairman - Ronald Mutebi

Vice chairman - Grace Muguli Kwizera

Directors - Ayumi Inadome, Masato

Tsuchiya, Ahmed Hussein
Management committee


Chief Executive Officer - Harold Atukwatse

Finance manager - Ayumi Inadome

Manager administration and operations - Stephen Lwanga

Media officer - Emmanuel Otim

Technical team

Head coach - Joseph Mutyaba

Assistant - Tom Ssali

Head of Youth Football - Dan Kirumira

Fitness Trainer - Sulaiman Sebunza

Goalkeeping coach - Alfred Kato

Physiotherapists - Shamim Nasali

Medic - Afua Namayanja Muajumah

Kitman - Karim Kawuta


First Team

Junior team

Average domestic costs in a season: Ugx 660m

Transport facilitation: Shs125m per season (Average Shs15,000 per person (players and all other staff) per day depending on where one resides) 

Feeding (players, technical, secretariat, support staff): Shs7m per month (daily lunch and breakfast)

Home matches expenses: Average Shs2.5m spent on hosting a home match

Away matches expenses 

Arua: Up to Shs7m (transport, meals, accommodation and others)

Mbarara: Up to Shs5m 

Kampala/Wakiso: Shs1m 

Prize money or bonuses

Contractual and payable with salary at the end of the month. Amounts undisclosed.

But for context, players and coaches take 30 percent of prize money for tournaments like Uganda Cup, UPL etc

There are additional performance-based tokens for goals scored, assists,  clean sheets, appearances and national team call-ups

Average total amount paid out in prize money/bonuses: Shs4m to Shs7m depending on performances per month

All salaries, including administration: Shs28m per month gross 

Total annual salaries: Shs336m gross

Total average monthly expenses for domestic season, including miscellaneous: Shs55m

Total annual expenses for domestic football season: About Shs660m

Financial books

2022/23 Budget: Shs534m

Realised: Approximately Shs427m, a Shs107m deficit

2023/24 Budget: Shs597m

Key driver: Attract more sponsors. This is the most convenient because it comes with minimal expenditure, according to CEO Harold Atukwase.

Revenue sources

Sponsorships (SEINAN, Yoshino Motors, Jica, Jibu, Melbet (replaced by Otani Steel this season), Gorilla Field, Poire.

Broadcast sponsorship, Shs95m.

Shareholder funding from Soltilo Uganda Limited (majority shareholder at 70 per cent)

Kit sales

Player sales

Gate collections