By Norman Isaac Mwambazi
During President Museveni’s recent address to the country about the COVID-19 situation, he directed open-air sports activities to reopen, but noted that they should do so according to the Ministry of Health’s Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs).
These include; teams participating will have to carry out mandatory COVID-19 tests on all players and staff 72 hours before kick-off, and then do bi-weekly tests thereafter in case of subsequent games.
The Presidential directives also indicate that clubs have to isolate players and staff in camps during the entire period of the tournament to prevent them from contracting the virus and or spreading it to the community in case they contract it.
They also have to put into consideration that clubs will have a total of 25 persons (18 squad players and seven staff), yet every COVID-19 test costs about Shs240,000 in public hospitals and about Shs350,000 in private hospitals.
This means that clubs will spend at least Shs6 million each, on every round of testing.
Another thing to consider is the camping expenses. Clubs will have to provide accommodation and food to players, and maybe the coaching staff, and then sanitizers. All these costs have to be met before the new Uganda Premier League (UPL) starts on November 17, 2020, and throughout the entire season, as long as the pandemic is still round.
We are all aware of the fact that during normal times, most Ugandan football clubs have had financial problems where some fail to pay their players’ salaries on time, as well as other failing to participate in continental tournaments after qualification.
With the COVID-19 pandemic disorganising almost everything and companies that looked financially stable had to cut jobs to reduce on their expenditure, one can only wonder how the already financially stricken clubs are going to manage this extra expenditure.
There have been talks of local football governing body the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) meeting these costs either fully or a sizeable percentage of them, but the question still stands on whether they will do so for all football clubs in the UPL, Big League, and regional level, and for how long.