Ugandans reacted with bemusement when a neighboring country this week announced a branding partnership with UK football giants Arsenal Football Club.
Now Ugandans will be shocked to learn that before the neighboring country signed with Arsenal, Uganda was given the opportunity to ink the deal, but government officials let that opportunity pass.
Either it was out of incompetence or the inability to see the opportunity but Red Pepper has been told that in early 2017, Eden Sports Group a sports marketing group from UK, with full authority from Arsenal FC, pitched to Uganda government officials the partnership with Arsenal.
On the team was a gentleman, a sports marketing expert called Kamal Sabuni who lives in the UK but is Ugandan.
We have been told that the first meeting between Eden Sports and the Ugandan delegation took place in Nairobi Kenya with the National Council Of Sports chairman, the Secretary General and Commissioner of Sports in attendance.
Both teams later travelled to London, England for due diligence as NCS put it and all their concerns about whether Eden was acting on behalf of arsenal were sorted out.
We are told the Ugandan team was convinced and the NCS was begged not to take this opportunity lightly as the returns would be massive and far reaching.
That a time line with real deliverable targets was agreed while at Arsenal and the Ugandan team returned with a promise to have everything sorted as soon as possible.
That when the Ugandan team returned home they went mute and stopped communicating and there are rumors that details of the deal were leaked to other countries in the region.
Our source told us: ‘The marketing team had clearance with Arsenal FC to sell the partnership and they met with government officials from the ministry of Tourism and Education and Sports but they got only promises and red tape until they lost patience and they took their opportunity elsewhere.”
Uganda was approached because of many reasons. Mainly because amongst the East African countries, Uganda has the most vibrant footballing environments and the most passionate football fans.
Uganda also has a sizeable and very passionate fan base for Arsenal FC and presented the best opportunity for growth for Arsenal FC.
“It was only natural that Eden Sport Group thought they’d sell the Arsenal Partnership to Uganda,” said a Ugandan journalist who was working with the Eden Sports Group team when they pitched to Uganda.
The marketing team made power point presentations and full color booklets and brochures detailing the benefits of the partnership with Arsenal.
“The government officials listened attentively, asked all the right questions and we even agreed timelines. Everyone we met promised to consult and revert, but no one got back to us. It was like our ideas were all lost at sea,’ said our source.
These are the details of the opportunity that was presented to several government ministries and agencies.
The opportunity was branded ‘A Partnership to Be Proud Of’ and involved promotional opportunities spanning from sports to tourism for a period of FIVE years.
On sports the partnership would present legacy and football development opportunities that would benefit Arsenal and Uganda football fraternity.
To develop and nurture local talent, work with the Ugandan FA, improve grassroots football and create footballing legacy. On football development there would be 3 footballing camps each season and Arsenal FC would provide football legends for the Ugandan coaching camps to coach the coaches and inspire the young players. Legends like Freddie Ljungberg, Nwakwo Kanu, Robert Pires and Lauren were proposed.
Arsenal would also provide the Uganda FA with video training content with up to 30 instructional videos every season detailing an array of different training techniques, coaching drills, fitness regimes that would benefit FUFA and the National Council of Sports.
There would be women coaching clinics with some of the female Arsenal Players invited to Uganda.
The Partnership would also present an opportunity for a youth match to be played in Uganda featuring the Arsenal Youth XI vs the Ugandan Youth XI with the match filmed professionally and provided to Uganda to serve through its digital platforms.
The deal would also provide Uganda with training opportunities in the UK at Hale End where up to 8 players and two Ugandan coaches would attend coaching clinics in London facilitated by top Arsenal FC coaches.
The partnership would present an opportunity for a Ugandan team getting invited to play on the Emirates pitch once during the FIVE year partnership.
On Tourism promotion the partnership would provide an opportunity for branded content and influencer Social posts and TV content shared across the several Arsenal platforms reaching hundreds of Millions of people with immerse opportunities for Brand Uganda.
The partnership would see Brand Uganda content displayed during Arsenal Premier League matches, FA Cup and League Cup home matches for up to 3 minutes.
Tourism Uganda brand would feature on the Arsenal Interview backdrop with two logos for all premier league matches.
Under the deal Tourism Uganda would have an opportunity to integrate with tours providing an opportunity to be a hosting partner.
With Tourism Uganda logo included in Stadium Tour marketing campaigns and materials and the opportunity to create Virtual Reality destination tour content.
Tourism Uganda and National Council of Sports and the Ministry of Education and Sports would have access to a 12 seater executive box for all Arsenal home games and the opportunity to host match day promotions to market Uganda as a safari and holiday destination.
The booklet ends with this statement: Partnerships That Deliver; ‘This Relationship between Arsenal Football Club and Uganda will be a great partnership for the club and a statement of intent from the region and continent as a whole.’
What went wrong:
Source tell us that Eden Sports believe they did their ultimate best to sell the deal and met all the important government officials in all the relevant ministries but their efforts were thwarted by lack of commitment and failure to make things happen in time.
A source told us: ‘none of the government officials dismissed our proposal, but it looked like no one was willing to take up the opportunity to the higher level, a level we couldn’t reach but which was within their reach, no one could take a decision, in the end we waited and until we had to look else where.’
Not all is lost though with Uganda still having the opportunity to partner with Arsenal FC as Football Legacy Development partner. But the tourism aspect of the deal with Arsenal is lost for now.