15 January 2013

Uganda: Is Victoria Club Still in Trouble?

On December 28, 2012, Simo Dubajic, the Managing Director of Sports Club Victoria University (SCVU), which was promoted to the Super League in June 2012, addressed the media about the future of his club. Because of the disorder in local football, which now has two concurrent top-flight leagues, Dubajic warned he was considering withdrawing his club.

He said January 31, 2013, the day Education and Sports Minister Jessica Alupo set as deadline to have one united league, would determine the direction of SCVU. However, last week, news broke that Buckingham University in the UK, to which Victoria University (VU) was affiliated, was withdrawing its courses because of the anti-homosexuality bill in the Ugandan Parliament. This, according to the UK university, is infringing of human and minority rights.

In the aftermath of that, there has been concern that VU could close and, by extension, the football club. So, will that be the case? SCVU Publicist Leon Senyange told The Observer that the developments involving Buckingham University would not affect SCVU in any way

"Like our boss (Dubajic) said a few weeks ago, the only thing that can make this football club fold is if we continue with the two leagues."

Yet this has not stopped speculation that once VU is affected, the football club will suffer too. There is a presumption that VU funds SCVU entirely. But that's not the case. Apart from using the VU name, the football club is totally independent of VU.

And how does that come about? Edulink Holdings is a company that owns VU, SCVU and Victoria Health centre. Each of these entities is autonomous and, therefore, there should be no worry about SCVU's long-term existence.

On the other hand, however, SCVU is VU's publicity and promotion vehicle. It's an advertising tool. It's on that premise that football-mad Dubajic, from Serbia, chose to start this club back in the 2011/2012 season. Dubajic says he injected over Shs 200 million in the build-up to the 2012/2013 season to acquire new players, including former Cranes left-back Nestory Kizito.

It's said that Kizito received a sign-on fee of $20,000 (Shs 50 million) on top of a hefty salary he receives every month. Others, like young Cranes players Dennis Guma, Noah Semakula, Saddam Juma and Ali Kimera, were also brought in on big contracts.

It appears that Dubajic expected to sell some of these burgeoning Ugandan talents to top leagues in Africa and Europe. But because of the confusion in the domestic game, Dubajic, who had targeted an appearance on SuperSport to complete his puzzle, has been left frustrated as his team has never been shown live due to the problems in domestic football.

Yet if nothing more orderly happens by January 31, there could be more frustration.

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