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Is a 12-team Uganda Premier League a good idea?

By Shafik Ssenoga

Added 1st April 2020 08:50 PM

"Uganda has a population of over 40 million people and out of all sports disciplines, football is the most followed and cherished. It is played from border to border," says Mujib Kasule.

Is a 12-team Uganda Premier League a good idea?

"Uganda has a population of over 40 million people and out of all sports disciplines, football is the most followed and cherished. It is played from border to border," says Mujib Kasule.

UGANDA PREMIER LEAGUE

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A number of topflight clubs are not warming to Ugandan football governing body FUFA's proposal to have the premier league trimmed from 16 teams to 12 as passed by the FUFA executive recently.

The 12-team topflight would start in earnest in the 2021/22 season. Proline director Mujib Kasule feels such as a decision is uncalled for.

Kasule, a football administrator who also has vast coaching experience, insists that Uganda can ably sustain a professional league of even more than 16 teams.

He points at three factors to consider when proposing the number of teams to feature in top-tier football. It is a population trinity: The population of the country, the population of football followers in that country and the population of the talent in the said nation.

And according to Kasule, Uganda has those three populations in abundance. For that reason, he maintains downsizing the league is unnecessary.

In fact, it should be expanded to 18 or 20 clubs, he adds.

"Uganda has a population of over 40 million people and out of all sports disciplines, football is the most followed and cherished. It is played from border to border," says Kasule.

ujib asuleMujib Kasule says trimming the league is unncessary

 

Sponsors, talent on the line

Cutting the numbers will drive away sponsors, he reasons.

"Get this from me. A sponsor will always come where there are numbers because he wants to advertise to a bigger audience. Imagine from 16 teams now to 12 teams, do you think he will stay? He won't. Why? Because he is not getting the numbers he expected.

"Another challenge in a 12-team league is the growing passion for football among Ugandans. Every region now is trying its level best to bring a team into the premier league. People are investing heavily.

"But you wake up and frustrate their efforts by reducing the teams. This will also affect promising talent, who would have been scouted from their games in the top flight," explains Kasule.

 s a gandan fan prepared for a 12team premier league Is a Ugandan football fan ready for a 12-team premier league?

 

The Proline chief draws examples from nations such as Wales, Australia, Scotland and Croatia where the top league features 12 teams.

According to him, these countries have small populations and are short on talent thus, the 12-team league is applicable to them.

His advice to FUFA is to not look far beyond the continent in order to realise Uganda's vision of being the number one footballing nation in Africa.

"FUFA should take a look at the the top leagues in Africa since we want to be the one nation on the continent and see how things are done. That will help us realise that vision.

'There are more critical issues to be tackled'

Police coach Abdullah Mubiru, too, does not welcome the 12-team idea.

He says if Uganda is to build a strong league, the number of clubs must instead be increased to ramp up competition a notch higher.

"Some proposals [by FUFA] are good, especially in other areas, but not reducing the number of teams in the top tier to a dozen. I am not supporting it," says Mubiru.

bdallah ubiruAbdallah Mubiru says more competition is needed - not less of it

 

Kyetume CEO Emmanuel Musinguzi shares similar sentiments, and argues that the football hierarchy should instead be tackling such issues as why teams disappear into oblivion after being relegated.

"I think really those are the sticking issues FUFA should be addressing now.

"The 12-league team to me is not what we want now. The number should actually be growing to increase competition and draw more sponsors on board," adds Musinguzi.

Just like in many parts of the world, all sporting activity in Uganda has been suspended as the nation tries to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

But the StarTimes Uganda Premier League had already gone into a break before the suspension - one of several other measures - was issued by President Yoweri Museveni last month.

At the time of the breakoff, Vipers were leading the table on 54 points, four points ahead of second-placed KCCA and eight in front of Villa, who are third.

On the opposite end of the log, Tooro United are anchoring the table on 22 points, Proline in 15th on also 22 points and Maroons complete the relegation zone cast in 14th on 24 points.






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