Clubs featuring in the Uganda Premier League have presented to FUFA their stand about the proposed competition reforms that the federation wants to make in a bid to improve the quality of football competitions in the country.

During a consultative meeting that took place on Thursday at the FUFA Complex, clubs were given the chance to present their proposals in as far as the reforms are concerned.

In a paper presented by KCCA FC Vice Chairman, Aggrey Ashaba, clubs made it clear that the proposed reforms may not necessarily bring the desired changes and thus are not needed at the moment.

KCCA FC Vice- Chairman, Aggrey Ashaba making a presentation during the meeting on Thursday.

‘Before we engage in a fight, we must know which kind of war we are engaging in. Clubs were presented with the proposed FUFA Competition reforms and tasked to come up with opinions. The clubs therefore think that before we even look at reforms, we have more pressing issues that must be addressed.’ He said.

Ashaba stated that the salient challenges clubs face today include;

  • Finance
  • Governance
  • Refereeing
  • Communication  

Finance

Ashaba noted that no club in the Uganda Premier League breaks even and thus things like resources, technologies and infrastructure must be looked at.

‘We are still operating in losses. There is no single club in Uganda that breaks even. So this is a big challenge we must look into. How do we make the football business viable?’

Governance

In his submission about governance, Ashaba noted that clubs still have administration gaps. Some are still engulfed in ownership wrangles while majority have not empowered their CEOs to run the clubs.

Still about governance, the clubs feel the FUFA 3rd Vice President position should be held by a club chairperson because that would bridge the gap between clubs and FUFA.

It should be noted that clubs are not contended with Hon. Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi representing them at the FUFA Executive Committee because of lack of attachment to any club.

Refereeing

Centre referee Ali Sabila Chelangat

‘Every club has complained about refereeing in the league and we cannot say this is not a challenge. The standards of the referees and the body that governs them are low. I was privileged to serve on the FUFA Referees’ Committee but I must say there is a big challenge here.’  He said.

‘I propose the referees’ committee should become a legal body that offers its services to UPL on contract. If things go wrong, then people must account for that.’

Communication

The other challenge that Ashaba hinted on was communication indicating the Uganda Premier League must be bold on;

  • What you intend to say
  • What you actually say
  • And how the recipient understands you

Observations on the proposed Competition reforms

12 vs 16

Clubs insist that the 16-team league is still relevant and reduction in number of clubs will not necessarily improve the quality if the aforementioned challenges are not mentioned.

‘We are playing 30 games now and it is evident that majority of the clubs are struggling. If you introduce 12 teams with three rounds that would take us to 33 games hence an extra cost of three additional games.’ Said Ashaba on behalf of the clubs.

Additionally, he believes playing three rounds will only be an advantage to the ‘big boys’ who may afford to get a better aggregate over two legs and thus resulting into a burden for the weaker sides who may have to play away all the third round games.

‘Currently, we are playing 15 games at home and 15 away. But if you want a league with three rounds, the weaker teams will play at least 17 games on the road or at most 22 games. This is definitely a challenge that wasn’t looked at while drafting the proposed reforms.’

Reserve league

In the proposal presented by FUFA, each club playing in the Uganda Premier League will have an U20 side (Reserve League). However, clubs believe this will be another cost centre.

‘We still have majority of the teams struggling to pay players in the senior team and if we add another cost burden definitely, it will be an overload for the clubs. There’s no doubt that having such age groups us important in the development of football but it must be streamlined and packaged well.’

Refereeing

As earlier mentioned, the clubs believe there is a big concern with refereeing in the country and that was not addressed in the proposals.

With reports of match fixing, underpayment and delayed payment of referees, the clubs want this to be addressed to the core.

Sponsorship concern

Clubs also asked for FUFA’s light on the issue of sponsorship. It should be noted that StarTimes signed a 10-year deal to broadcast the league games with 16 teams. However, with the introduction of 12 teams, the clubs are worried the sponsors may be forced to run away.

What the clubs are proposing?

Clubs insist the proposed reforms can be deferred for now and the Uganda Premier League 4-year strategic plan which was introduced in 2018.

Some of the concerns clubs have proposed include;

  • Stadium Funding
  • Increase in prize money
  • Governance re-calibration
  • Creation of Chairmen’s forum
  • Commercialisation model of the league
  • Refereeing reforms  

It was agreed that there will be more engagements with other key stakeholders to come up with a conclusive approach on the proposed reforms.

Joel Muyita

Joel Muyita is a senior staff writer at Kawowo Sports.

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