The SUPL: How much do you know about the 2018-19 season so far?

The latest international break is over and club football is back for four months of uninterrupted action.

The SUPL has been unpredictable as ever this season, and returns with bottom side Paidha Black Angels SC against high flying Bright Stars FC among the other 6 Fixtures in Match-day 9.

Here are some milestones so far of this ever intriguing league after just 8 Match Days.

  • The impact of the New Broadcaster StarTimes/Sanyuka TV with a huge viewership closing up the naming & Broadcasting Rights.
  • A 10 year StarTimes deal offers opportunity to majority Ugandans of watching SUPL from their homes for the next 10 years. At least those who may not make it to the stadia on Match Days.
  • The coming on board of another Big Brand Uganda Breweries through their brand Pilsner Lager (the king’s beer) that has been absent from local football for over six years signifying the growth of the SUPL Brand.
  • The FUFA/UPL efforts towards ZERO TOLORENCE TO VIOLENCE & HOOLIGANISM hence quashing the fear of many would be sponsors because of Brand damage. This is yielding results as clubs are increasingly getting more organized on and off pitch which in turn is attracting back club sponsorships and fans. A case in point is the huge Express FC/betway sponsorship deal announced recently.
  • And the continued sustained stable relationship between FUFA, League Management and Clubs. This has resulted into harmony and stability hence creating a conducive environment for sponsors to come on board. A wrangle free league is also among the factors that have attracted fans into the stadiums.

The league (2018/19) started from where it ended (2017/18) with vibrancy and high competitiveness 1 point or 2 points off the top separating the first 8 teams from each other.

New goals: The changing face of media relations in the SUPL

A study into the communication practices of I6 current and former UPL football teams has found that just 4 are still pursuing professional relationships with the mainstream press.

The rise of social media has shifted the focus of clubs away from traditional media channels and instead towards in-house publications, such as magazines, television channels and online.

In a series of interviews with SUPL club employees, the goal of communications departments is now to increase their own publicity, media and news production – giving them a more “direct, prompt and accurate” connection to their fans.

In-house approach is now one of four basic strategies for marketing and media relations identified during the interviews.

The trending policies are:

  • Developing the clubs’ own media to increase the directness of the communication.
  • Actively building formal relations between the club and local media.
  • Sustaining informal personal relations between clubs’ employees and members of the media.

Now from the onset a combination of these four strategies by the clubs as a model is outright suggesting that their efforts to develop the clubs’ own media and social media accounts is assisting them in regaining control of the communication process in a cost effective and direct way, while potentially excluding traditional media from the communications process altogether.

“At the same time, the focus appears to be often placed on local rather than national media, while informal relations between members of the press and football club employees tend to be the preferred approach in the overall media relations landscape.”

Clubs reportedly are receiving more interest and less criticism through local channels compared with the national press.

It is also evident that some of the clubs are not following any kind of general communications structure, but instead are relying upon the skills of individuals to maintain efficient departments.

As an overview of this empirical investigation, the complexity to generalize communications in football has to be underlined. As presented above by the current practice in the sport, communications do not follow a pattern or norm within the industry.

On the contrary, differences exist in various elements, from the structure of the departments to the media relations practices applied, another key element of the findings, is that currently communications at some football clubs are not based on a proper business structure, but on very capable communications practitioners. Since guidelines on various aspects are absent, it is often the employees’ initiatives and abilities that assure the well-functioning of the industry. Consequently, it is the human assets that are enhancing the efficiency of communications in the football industry at the moment and not its business structure and processes.

Efforts are under way to resolve the status quo with the last FUFA Media course for all Club Media Officers that ended at FUFA Technical Centre at Njeru on 22 August 2018 and the most recent presentation by FUFA Communications Manager Ahmed Hussien at Vipers SC and many more courses to come going forward.

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