Vipers, SCVU Leave UPL At Crossroads

History has a tendency of repeating itself. In September 2011, Proline and Vipers refused to sign the ‘Deed of Adherence’ (DOA) subjecting them to the terms and conditions of top-flight league financiers Bell Lager and SuperSport.

Citing irregularities in the deal, the two teams missed out on sponsorship money as a result. Fast forward to today, Vipers, together with Sports Club Victoria University (SCVU), have refused to sign the DOA for the 20142015 Uganda Premier League (UPL), the new name of the top-flight league.

This would have passed off as an isolated incident but SuperSport, the sole backers of the UPL, have refused to disburse the sponsorship money until all the 16 top-flight team sign up. SuperSport are said to be willing to fork out around $300,000 for this season alone but it is not clear how much each club would receive, and figures range from Shs 18m to Shs 40m each.

SCVU managing director Simo Dubajic, says Kavuma Kabenge, the deal broker, stands to receive too much commission in the SuperSport TV deal. Vipers chairman Tadeus Kitandwe adds that his club will only sign the DOA if the UPL ownership is streamlined.

In the current format, UPL clubs have no say in sponsorship affairs. In the event if SuperSport is to release the money, it would be received by Kabenge, who would deduct his commission before forwarding the rest to Fufa, which in turn would withhold a percentage before releasing the remainder to the clubs.

Put simply, Kabenge is the ultimate go-between. Kabenge admitted owning the UPL, which is contrary to Fifa’s programme that propagates clubs to own and run the top-flight as a company. The decision was reached in 2010 through the Jinja Declaration (JDC).

Besides, Fufa slapped an 11-year ban on Kabenge from participating in football matters in 2011. Therefore, Kitandwe adds that they want transparency in the SuperSport deal and that Kabenge’s suspension has never been lifted, yet he continues to run football.

However, Dennis Mbidde, the Fufa vice president in charge of the UPL, sees the two clubs’ actions as economic sabotage. Three-quarters of the first round have already been played. “Yet, most clubs are in dire need of money and TV coverage. We can’t afford to lose it just because of Vipers and SCVU,” Mbidde stressed.

Already, coaches of Entebbe FC (Matia Lule) and Rwenshama FC (Shafiq Bisaso) have resigned their jobs, citing a lack of payment. Peter Kibazo, a board member at KCCA FC, sees double-standards from Vipers. “The FSL wasn’t properly constituted as a company. As members, we had no share certificates. We didn’t even hold any annual general meetings to review FSL’s performance but Kitandwe never complained then,” said Kibazo.

Interestingly, Fufa President Magogo said a few months ago that every club is free to sign or not to sign the DOA. Back in 2013, Magogo had said in a meeting with the Minister of Education and Sports, Jessica Alupo, that football should not be dictated to by sponsors.

Perhaps that explains why SCVU and Vipers remain defiant. However, Magogo’s spokesman Patrick Ntege now says the actions of SCVU and Vipers are in defiance of the Fufa Club Licensing Board (FCLB) compliance form that includes the DOA. This, to him, is all needed to evict the two clubs if they don’t sign.

Ntege and Mbidde agree that the other 14 clubs that have signed the DOA can choose to throw SCVU and Vipers out.

But Kibazo quashed Ntege’s view on the FCLB’s mandate. “The compliance form every club had to fill and sign looks at football merit issues like player contracts, medical, stadium and technical aspects at each club. But not corporate behaviour like Ntege is suggesting.”

Source : The Observer

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