Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA FC) are among the top Uganda Premier League (UPL) clubs that have turned down a proposal from the Federation of Uganda Football Association (Fufa) to reform the game in the country.
On Friday, Fufa fronted several proposals that will affect different divisions, especially UPL clubs, reducing the top flight from 16 to 12 teams, and forcing each top-flight team to adopt a U20 side for the new reserve competition.
The FA said the proposals were approved by the Fufa executive committee after “wide-scale consultations with First Division clubs, Second Division clubs, sponsors and UPL management,” among others.
But most clubs now say they received the news the same time as the rest of the public.
“Not if they consulted clubs but as [KCCA], we have been lobbying for the reserve side for a couple of years as it fits well within our ambitions and the greater football good that enabled clubs to have a sustained conveyor belt of talent,” KCCA vice-chairman Aggrey Ashaba is quoted by Daily Monitor.
On the proposed 12 clubs, Ashaba said “a solution must match the challenge".
In this case, the challenge of clubs is not the league size per se, it’s rather governance and finance.
“Quality can be fixed via licensing and other regulatory frameworks. The challenge of the country is the youth budget," he continued.
“As a sport, we must be able to create more working opportunities for the youth. Taking away four clubs is taking away over 150 direct employment opportunities in an economy with a median age of 16 years.”
Proline FC director Mujib Kasule represented the UPL clubs in 2010 during the Jinja Declaration that birthed the current competition setup.
“At the time,” Kasule told Daily Monitor.
“Fifa came to us as clubs and Fufa and suggested we reduce clubs from 18 to 12. Fifa argued that at 18 clubs, it would be difficult to get sponsorship than say, 12. But we also told them that talent wasn’t the problem as we are blessed with so much.
“Our other point was 12 top clubs were mainly central, so that would starve the rest of the football-mad country. They listened and agreed on 16 clubs.
“It’s now surprising Fufa is going back to 12 clubs. What is the real reason for 12 clubs? And why play three rounds?”
Starting with the 2021/22 season, the UPL is proposed to play three rounds instead of the current two.
According to the proposals, the 2020/21 season will be a transition period, with UPL clubs starting out at the usual 16 before six are relegated, instead of the usual three.
This is to ensure the take-off 2021/22 season begins with 12, which includes the two that will have been promoted from the Big League.