Several sports clubs in the country are in panic following an impending country exit by Betway sports betting company.
Although the company is yet to officially announce its exit, a top official confirmed the move, saying they will make the announcement at the right time.
Betway, which has operated in Uganda for the last seven years has been a major sponsor of different sports clubs including Uganda Premier League champions Express FC, Power basketball club, and Kobs rugby club. The same company sponsored Arua-based football club Onduparaka back in 2016.
The abrupt exit of the betting company will therefore leave a huge vacuum among clubs that have been relying on its sponsorship. In an interaction with URN, Livingstone Luggya, the chairperson of Kobs rugby club said that Betway has been their main sponsor since it came on board in 2017.
“We had a running contract until December 2022 and we were supposed to negotiate in December but they communicated to us that they will not renew so it put us in a tight spot,” Luggya briefly said.
Although Luggya never wanted to disclose what was in their partnership package with Betway throughout that period, he revealed that Kobs have been able to achieve many things courtesy of support from the betting company.
Among the key issues he raised, is the winning bonus of Shs 1 million the club received every time they registered a match victory among others, saying this would boost the morale of their players every time they entered the pitch.
Kobs is already taking part in the Uganda Rugby Premier League that kicked off this month. The Kobs are the defending champions of the national rugby league after beating second-placed Black Pirates to win their first title in five years. It remains unclear whether the team will remain competitive after the departure of its main sponsor.
Allan Musoke, the general manager of Power basketball club said they since embarked on looking for another sponsor to push the club forward. Musoke said that Power also had a running contract that was ending at the end of March 2022. He, however, explained that everything in the contract has been fulfilled.
In November 2018, Betway announced that they had entered a partnership with Express FC that saw them injecting Shs 400 million into the club. The contract allowed Betway to own naming rights of Express FC's stadium and also appear on the team’s jersey. The contract was later renewed in 2020.
Tabbu Peter, the communications manager at Express, said that the club had a contract that was running until the end of the current Uganda Premier League season but the exit of Betway leaves a vacuum in the club.
“We had a running contract and it was going up to the end of this current season. They sent us a letter, saying they had gone back, and they couldn’t stay in the market anymore, so there was no option really but the CEO and everyone at the club are working towards ensuring that we get another partner,” he said.
Adding that “They had fulfilled what was in the contract until they indicated that they couldn’t stay in the market. We are not the only affected people, that’s something we could not have control over."
Just like Betway Kobs, Express partnership with Betway yielded big when the red Eagles scooped last season’s Star Times Uganda Premier league trophy after spending over twelve years without winning the league. They also won the regional CECAFA Kagame Cup.