The Bell Uganda Super League came of age on the sponsorship field, but was well short as a spectacle on the field and in the boardroom.
But, there is every reason to celebrate tonight when the top performers are rewarded, writes John Vianney Nsimbe.
It was picture perfect: Players from Villa, Express, Bunamwaya, Masaka LC and Maroons took a group picture and shared a hearty chat during the monthly player awards breakfast at the Sheraton Hotel on May 21.
The portraiture bellied the understanding that they're Uganda Super League's (USL) best players. Tonight, at the Serena hotel, some of them will be hoisting awards for the best of the season.
The Most Valuable Player (MVP) will receive a plot of land and a vehicle. The event is expected to raise the USL brand and it is more than what football officials could have hoped for following an endless stream of battles between the USL and Fufa.
First, the season started on a wrong note when Bidco didn't show up against Water FC in a scheduled live telecast; then midway through the season, the Fufa-USL standoff reached boiling point when the former refused to send referees to any USL game, saying USL wasn't running the league properly.
Instead, USL appointed its own referees for some of the games but were later nullified and replayed at the clubs' expense. To cement the battle lines, Fufa forced USL to re-admit Hoima-Busia FC to the league after the second round had started.
Yet, by the season's end, few cared about the bickering. This was turning out to be the most competitive season with the tightest finish in years. On the final day of the season, three teams had a shot at the league, which was eventually won by Express, the most inexperienced team with the smallest transfer kitty.
Spectacular performances from Bunamwaya, Express and Proline also lived up to the purists standards. For the football lovers, SuperSport's live telecast of the games was a big boon, not to mention the boost to the USL coffers (Shs 12m from the TV games).
A total of 405 goals were scored this season compared to the 320 in the 2010/2011 season and the number of spectators increased, cementing the four-year $5m sponsorship deal from SuperSport.
Other companies like Pioneer Easy Bus also came aboard as shirt sponsors for Villa, Express and KCC. This was also the season when several youngsters came to the fore.
Here we are talking of Yayo Lutimba (Express), Brian Akena (Maroons), Misi Katende (Villa), Hashim Kakaire (Hoima), Joshua Masene (Bidco), William Wadri (Proline) and Nicholas Wadada (Bunamwaya).
So as the party goes on tonight, the spotlight will again be on Fufa and USL and how they hope to take the game ahead. Fifa's regional officer, Ashford Mamelodi, is here to ensure that the two bodies cooperate. The game needs it.