Dennis Mbidde, the brains behind Fufa’s three-year $3m sponsorship deal with Sports Broadcasting Limited, has been involved in several major sponsorship deals in Ugandan football but given the bitter end of most of those deals, this new five-year project will offer a litmus test of his credentials, writes Moses Mugalu.
Since 2001 when Mbidde emerged on the football scene as a firebrand activist with Save Our Soccer (SOS), he has cut out a niche as a daring person.
Since then, he has been in and out of football management, often falling out with colleagues before making a dramatic U-turn to the top. He rose to become Fufa marketing boss in 2006 and that period coincided with the dawn of multimillion sponsorships deals in football.
In 2008, he brokered the ground-breaking five-year $5m deal between GTV and Fufa but it collapsed within a year before both parties could accrue tangible benefits.
Mbidde was back in the mix as an integral figure in the SuperSport with Uganda Super League (USL) package worth also $5m for five years.
All seemed to be going according to plan until Mbidde and his USL colleagues engaged in a power struggle with Fufa, which culminated in a bitter split. The relations were so strained yet somehow SuperSport tried hard to hang on to the sponsorship.
Well, that was until Mbidde threw in the towel and went back to Fufa as vice president. With the table turned, Mbidde spearheaded the bringing on board of Azam TV in 2015 in a three-year $3m deal.
With a looming sponsorship void at the end of this season, Mbidde, has bounced back as the managing director of Sports Broadcasting, the company that will take over the sponsorships of all major football competitions starting June 1.
Under the new deal, top-flight clubs will share $600,000 every season with each club getting about Shs 150m. On top of that, Sports Broadcasting will inject a further $80,000 (Shs 290m) in the second-tier Big League as well as $70,000 (Shs 255m) for the Uganda Cup every season.
Speaking to The Observer, Mbidde is relishing the task which could make or break his albeit controversial football administration career.
“My experience from previous sponsorships has prepared me to turn around Ugandan football,” he says. “We have already secured the funding that will financially empower local clubs and also open their eyes into sustainability.”
Of course, questions about Sports Broadcasting’s ability to bankroll the competitions given that it has no previous experience linger on but Mbidde is not bothered. “This is a new dawn and we are going to change the face of Ugandan football,” he says. “I welcome doubters because they inspire me to work harder.”
Only time will tell whether Mbidde lives up to the hype.