July 5, 2022

Unhappy StarTimes want to renegotiation league sponsorship with clubs

By Clive Kyazze
FUFA and StarTimes officials during the unveiling of the 10 year sponsorship package of the Uganda Premier League || Courtesy photo

On August 9th, 2018 StarTimes and FUFA unveiled a 10-year Sponsorship deal for the Uganda Premier League and FUFA Big League worth Shs28.1 billion (US$7,240,000).

Then StarTimes CEO Andy Wang and Vice President in charge of marketing Aldrine Nsubuga were at the helm of the deal for ‘the only league that matters’.

While Andy and Nsubuga transferred to Kenya, in came Wang Franklin in the capacity of Executive Vice President and by the look of things he is not impressed with the way things are done.

Franklin feels the interests of StarTimes in the whole deal are being neglected and violated while very many stakeholders who were supposed to be part of the deal were locked outside.

The priority stakeholders in the entire equation are the 16 clubs who form the top tier league and have not played their part as per the expectations of StarTimes as promised by FUFA, the other party in the signing of the deal.

The big question that has always been asked is why FUFA was doing business on behalf of the clubs; “Clubs or UPL gave FUFA 100% rights to look for sponsorship and market the league on their behalf,” a source told football256 on grounds of anonymity.

In the signed contract whose details are only known to FUFA and StarTimes, clubs, both parties were to use clubs to market and promote the StarTimes brand.

And like any other professional but also well organised league, the running needed to be smooth, without instant postponement of fixtures especially when it involves booking space on the satellites and the likes.

StarTimes are also not happy with the fact that clubs don’t wear the league logo on their sleeves like it’s mandatory to be enforced by FUFA and Uganda Premier League.

The other bit bothering StarTimes is the issue of clubs not getting their quarterly share of the sponsorship funds direct from the StarTimes bank accounts straight to their bank account.

At the moment that money goes through FUFA to the clubs which is ambiguous especially since clubs don’t get their share on time yet FUFA always pressure StarTimes to pay the quarterly dues on time.

As the owners of 74% of the commercial rights of the league, which includes branding at all stadiums whether it’s live on television or not, including advertising on television for anything related to the league.

The contract gives StarTimes the right to sell or transfer their 74% rights to any other partner, something that has hit a snag.

Every time they try to sell the product especially the naming rights of the league, their targeted clients have always asked who owns the product StarTimes is hawking to them.

“When StarTimes approached MTN for the rights of title sponsors of the league, MTN thought they were going to negotiate with the club, which didn’t happen,” the source noted.

“When they sat in a meeting, they realised that FUFA’s contract with Airtel had a clause that stops another direct competitor from sponsoring any football product in Uganda.”

Efforts for StarTimes to work with Uganda Premier League secretariat turned out to be futile as the latter didn’t know their stake in the whole matter to the amusement of the Chinese broadcasting company.

Reports indicate that StarTimes officials in Ugandan are to have a meeting with their bosses in China to review the contract and see how they can get the best out of it.

The tentative plan is to terminate the current contract that is in only its second year of the ten, compensate FUFA and renegotiate directly with the clubs again, something that might not go well with the powers that be.

If this is the route to be taken, then it’s likely to take Ugandan football back to the 2012/2013 season were fights and miss understandings between FUFA and then Uganda Super League led to two parallel leagues.

FUFA formed the FUFA Super League that was won by KCCA FC while Maroons were crowned champions of the Uganda Super League.

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