Likely outcomes of force majeure event (COVID-19) on Ugandan football

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By Alunyo Jimmy Patrick

The term “force majeure”, as new as it is to our ears, has been defined in Black’s law dictionary, as an event or effect that can neither be anticipated nor controlled. Well to clarify it more, some contracts contain a provision that if a force majeure event continues for a prolonged time period, the parties may be permitted to terminate the contract.

Last season, the Uganda Premier League season was ended based on this so called force majeure event clause, which prompted the FUFA Executive Committee to end the season and hand the league title to Vipers Football Club, after the President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni banned all public gatherings in March 2020 in almost a similar situation to the one we are facing now. This decision by the FUFA Executive committee was heavily contested by clubs like Tooro United and Maroon FC who were relegated on this conditionality last season

So now that we are at par, let’s take a look at what happens if the COVID-19 lockdown continues. Who wins the league title, clubs facing relegation and the losers and the beneficiaries of such decisions.

What does the FUFA constitution say?

Article 18 (1) (c) of the FUFA Competition rules provides, “Where at least one club has played more than 75% of the league games, the following formula shall be used by TOC to determine the table positions for the respective group:

d) Total number of points earned from the number of games played multiplied by the total number of games supposed to be played divided by the number of games played.”

What happens to the League Title in this scenario?

Considering the fact that all the 16 clubs in the Uganda Premier League have played at least 75 percent of the matches this season, Article 18 (c) of the FCR will be applied and the table standings adjusted accordingly. This would mean that Express FC will be declared champions of the Uganda Premier League, URA will finish second and Vipers Football club who benefited from this decision last year will finish third. Article 85 of the FUFA statutes gives the FUFA Executive committee the powers to make such decisions in case the league were to be halted forever for this season due to COVID-19.

What happened to the relegation fighting teams?

Based on these provisions, if the league were to be halted permanently for this season, what that means is that MYDA FC, Kyetume FC and Kitara FC will be relegated to the Uganda second division (Big League) for the 2021/2022 season.

What about promotion to the Uganda Premier League?

In the league promotional category, FUFA Big League group leaders in Tooro United from the Rwenzori Group, and Arua Hill SC from the Elgon Group will be promoted to the Uganda Premier League, while Gadaffi FC, Nyamityobara FC, Proline FC, and Black Power FC will face-off in a playoff to determine the third team to be promoted to the top-flight.

This is what will most likely happen if the 2020/2021 season were to be halted permanently due to the force majeure event of COVID-19. It is a very painful situation for bottom clubs, and more especially Kyetume FC for this season who are just three points away from surviving and they still have three matches left to do it. This is why we hope the league will resume after the 42 days lockdown under strict SOPs, but that will also require the discipline of the football supporters who are always very excited and end up not following the restrictions.

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