I have the chance to interact with some of the top-flight club bosses on what it means to run a successful team.
Behind the public show of might and posturing that many of these owners often exhibit lies a frantic effort to keep some of these clubs afloat due to limited finances. Some go to the extent of borrowing here and there to pay day-to-day costs, allowances and travel expenses, among others.
The general outlook of domestic football is actually improving and some giant clubs have sponsorship budgets to rival the budget of National Council of Sports, the body that regulates more than 40 sports associations, including Fufa.
That was unthinkable years back when the sport was associated with power struggles but the corporate transformation of leading clubs is bearing dividends on top of changing many people’s mindsets.
KCCA FC and Vipers FC stand out on this front and last week, I had the opportunity to assess first- hand how sponsorship can impact a club. Tuesday found me at Lugogo, where I gave KCCA players a pep talk on values and traditions of the club.
It was an intriguing interaction and some players were eager to know whether their no-nonsense coaches Mike Mutebi and Morley Byekwaso were actually technically astute as they demand of them.
Others asked about the importance and legacy of their respective shirt numbers and, of course, what they need to do to attain a cult status at Lugogo. Personally, I expected questions to do with their welfare but even on one-on-one, no single player raised that issue.
A tour around the sports complex answered that question. KCCA is on an unprecedented path to self- sustenance because the facility has all the basic necessities for a professional club from a streamlined flow of work to a professional setup, not to mention the fact that discipline is paramount.
All this has been put in place mainly due to the solid financial foundation attained over the past few years when the club embarked on a rejuvenation process.
KCCA'S SHS 5.3BN ALLOCATION
The backbone of KCCA’s Shs 5.3bn annual budget comes from corporate sponsors such as Star-Times, Britam Insurance, MTN and Prime Media, among others. KCCA has a four-year Shs 3.2bn deal with StarTimes, Shs 4.2bn package with Britam for four years; two-year Shs 1.3bn deal with MTN as well as a Shs 750m partnership with Prime Media.
These packages combined annu- ally contribute about 70 per cent of the club’s annual budget, leaving the KCCA institution to contribute Shs 1.4bn in that timeframe. Mean- while, reaching the group phase of last season’s Caf Confederation Cup fetched $270,000 (about Shs 1bn) not to mention broadcasting rights.
Added to the fact that the stadium raked in about Shs 500m last season is enough testament to how the club has turned around its fortunes. Need I mention that the club sold Joseph Ochaya for $120,000 (about Shs 430 million) to Zambian outfit Lusaka Dynamos?
VIPERS' METEORIC RISE
For years, there was a popular cliche that no club will ever shake up the stranglehold of the big three traditional giants of Ugandan football; SC Villa, Express and of course KCCA.
Over the past decade, URA threatened to establish itself as a giant but the absence of a devout fan base and club structures have greatly worked against the Taxmen. Then came Vipers FC, which had been knocking on the door for years until the completion of their magnificent St Mary’s stadium.
That multi-billion project transformed the club into a force on both the structural and fan front. The events of the past one year have further set a benchmark for all clubs as far as organization and corporate management is concerned.
They have a two-year Shs 632m deal with Hima Cement, another Shs 500m sponsorship from Roofings and most recently signed a two-year Shs 300m with dfcu bank.
This comes hot on the heels of the record $400,000 (Shs 1.4bn) sale of Farouk Miya to Belgian side Standard Liege. I have not even touched on the club merchandise, inducements and endorsements.
For now, the chasing pack is led by SC Villa (Shs 1.3bn from StarTimes) and Onduparaka (Shs 600m from BetWay plus MTN’s Shs 390m) but there is no denying KCCA and Vipers are in their own league.
So far, the duo has yet to hit high gear in the league but there is no denying they will rise to the top as the season progresses.
Unless other teams catch up in form of raising the fan base as well as structures, the financial muscle of KCCA and Vipers will further enable them to poach the best from the other clubs, further creating some sort of duopoly in the domes- tic league.
It is almost unbelievable that the clubs are making those huge amounts of money. All these mind-boggling figures point to one simple fact; if a club is organized and keeps winning, fans, prize money and sponsorship will come calling.
The author is operations director of The Observer Media Ltd.