StarTimes in league sponsorship meltdown as Express FC warns they won’t be intimidated

Express FC chairman Kiryowa Kiwanuka warns that threats of walking out on the deal will not intimidate Red Eagles

FOOTBALL | Express FC has warned StarTimes that they will not be bulldozed as regards their ongoing sponsorship talks with GOtv.

StarTimes signed a ten-year deal to sponsor the top two leagues to a tune of Shs28 billion. Close sources have revealed that the clubs are expected to get only Shs67 million, an increase of Shs17 million from the previous deal by Azam.

Recently, during a media meet, the StarTimes vice president for branding and marketing, Aldrine Nsubuga, revealed that they have inserted a clause of exclusivity in the contract that bars any club from signing any partnership with its direct competitors (pay TV).

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He said: “We are here to do business and you do not expect StarTimes to invest all this money and allow our competitors any space to advertise on our platform. That one will not happen and it’s included in the contract.”

On Tuesday, he was quoted by a section of the media warning that they will pull the plug on the contract if Express goes ahead and sign any sponsorship with GOtv.

But the club’s newly-appointed chairman Kiryowa Kiwanuka has come out strong and told off StarTimes and their threat while assuring them that they will not be cowed by the threats.

“We Express FC have made every effort to remain quiet, civil and professional against all manner of provocation. While StarTimes Uganda has its responsibility to its shareholders we also have a responsibility to Express FC. We should try to work together for football,” Kiwanuka said.

“While it would be unfortunate for StarTimes Uganda to cancel the 10 year “deal” we shall not be cowed into submission in respect to unprincipled discussions. A problem actually exists and a solution should be sought. We Express FC do not take too well to threats.”

The city lawyer has poked holes in the contract and called the stakeholders to sit on a round table and address the challenges.

“We humbly request and strongly suggest that these unprovoked media outbursts from StarTimes Uganda should immediately cease and instead meaningful discussions should be had to address the challenges in the contract.”

Express recently unveiled a Shs100-million partnership with Equity Bank and is rumoured to be discussing a deal of over Sh200 milllion with the South African Pay TV firm.

They are also expected to unveil two more sponsors in the near future as Kiwanuka tries to pry open the ceiling to the Red Eagles’ financial and organisational fortunes ahead of the new league season.

Express’ troubles with StarTimes were made worse by a clause in the sponsorship contract that will see the broadcasters — who also took the title rights to league — only telecast live league games at Namboole, Lugogo and St Mary’s stadia.

This decision freezes out Express whose management and fans insist Wankulukuku, the home ground they have used for decades, is good enough for live broadcasts having enjoyed the privileges in the past.

Crime24 has also learnt that Onduparaka FC are mulling over a similar defiant move after the StarTimes decision left their talks with Azam TV in jeopardy.

The former league sponsors are also rumoured to be in talks with Vipers SC.

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