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Coronavirus: Biggest questions about the Uganda Premier League now

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A football calendar is always well-thought-out and diligently adhered to in all forms of its existence across the globe.

However, since the spread of the coronavirus across the world, many sporting activities have been halted and so has been the same for the StarTimes Uganda Premier League, which leaves pondering with some interesting questions.

We’re living in unprecedented times. The StarTimes Uganda Premier League has never been halted in its 29-years of life since 1991. While the outbreak of coronavirus poses plenty of questions to the world and its stakeholders, Uganda’s top-flight league has a few that need to be answered.

1. If coronavirus delays the season, what will happen to player contracts?
Gift Ali - Coronavirus: Biggest questions about the Uganda Premier League now

Gift Ali penning down a three-year contract with KCCA FC in July 2018 | KCCA Media Photo

Footballers’ contracts tend to run up to July. Even if someone signs in January, it’s extremely rare for a deal to expire any time other than the end of the season.

This causes problems if players’ contracts are running out before the end of the season.

What is set to happen should the UPL finish the 2019/20 season past the point when most contracts expire? Will FUFA/FIFA step in?

Are we about to see a directive or a change in the rules to extend the deals, or are the clubs willing to have to extend them somehow?

It is a total mess, indeed. However, strange times call for strange measures.

2. Can Vipers claim the title if the season ends prematurely?

Right now, no one knows whether Halid Lwaliwa will be lifting this season’s title or not.

While there has been a lot of talk regarding how it would be fair to award Vipers SC this season’s title should it end prematurely, the FUFA president Moses Magogo stated otherwise.

Vipers are currently 4-points clear and going by article 18 of the FUFA Competitions rules regarding the current situation.

This isn’t a full season but 75% of the season has already been played, evoking Article 18 means the 3-time champions can clinch a 4th.

But, this is not the way Fred Kajoba would have wanted to win it.

3. How much will coronavirus cost the Uganda Premier League?

Football is a big business and the loss of matchday income is going to affect the pockets of every club – even though some will lose more than others.

The UPL itself has sold the rights to broadcasters. The clubs will become more and more affected by the loss of matchday revenue with every week that goes.

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What are the chances of football resuming any time soon in Uganda?

The situation is largely dependent on when fans can get back into stadiums. This is no doubt going to cost all clubs a lot of revenue, but are the teams at the top wealthy enough to ensure it does hit them too hard should the situation persist for some more time?.

4. Will Startimes need to refund customers if the season is canceled?

As it stands, there are no plans for Startimes to refund viewers who fork out monies for the monthly subscriptions especially those who subscribed with reasons to watch the Startimes Uganda Premier League.

Whereas Sanyuka TV is offering plenty more content to keep you occupied through the barren weeks without the beautiful game, is StarTimes living to the pressure of what happens without the game?

Should the season be called-off, would the question of whether consumers will get at least a partial refund on their season pass?

5. Are any clubs at risk of financial collapse because of coronavirus?

There aren’t any clubs in the current top-flight that appear to be on the brink of financial ruin. However, further down the pyramid, lengthy spells without football could prove to be costly.

The longer clubs go without football top tier or otherwise, the more complex it seems to be getting. Are the Clubs enduring paying their staff?

Insurance and continental representation are grey areas too. Should we hope these have been readily planned for?

There are very many questions still to be asked and it can only get better if the current situation is handled before it worsens. A more detailed approach to answering the questions would best be benchmarked from other parts of the world enduring the same crisis.

Ronald Yiga
Senior Staff Writer at Touchline Sports covering largely football

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