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Misagga leaves SC Villa wallowing in debt

Out-going SC Villa president, Ben Misagga has left no money on the club’s accounts.

Misagga made his farewells on Sunday July 15 at Villa Park, the club’s eternal training ground. From Misagga’s own admission, he saw no need to ensure that his predecessor, whoever that will be, comes in and finds something to start off with.

When he spoke to The Observer on Monday, Misagga reasoned that for the four years he has been in charge at Villa, he had invested his own money into the club. While Misagga could have a strong justification for his actions, this raises hard questions about institutional sustainability, and how important it is for the posterity of any club like Villa.

Yet, it also goes without saying, that the final stroke could form part of the man’s legacy.

“Hahahaha…..I think my legacy at Villa will be unmatched. I was the first club head to host President Yoweri Museveni. As a result, he gave the club a bus and Shs 400 million for our Caf Confederation Cup engagement,” Misagga said.

SC Villa outgoing president Ben Misagga

No doubt, the advent of Misagga back in July 2014 sparked a new wave of fans interest in the club. As he promised to return the club to its glory days, after years of uncertainty, following the former club head, Fred Muwema’s fights with Fufa between 2012 and 2013, which saw him leave, Misagga was a breath of fresh air; not only to Villa fans (who thirsted for their dominance of old), but Fufa too.

Misagga read from Fufa’s hymn book unlike Muwema. From the onset, Misagga injected in millions of money in the transfer market, to acquire the likes of Hassan Wasswa, Steven Bengo, Augustine Nsumba and Erisa Ssekisambu some of the best players in the country at the time. These players were on big salaries to motivate them.

This was in stark comparison with what had been the case the two previous seasons after Muwema left. Villa flattered to deceive. They barely challenged for any trophy. Then, begging baskets had to be passed around among the fans, who watched the team’s training, to fundraise for the players welfare.

But when Misagga arrived, that stopped. He stepped up the sell of club memorabilia; replica jerseys, scarves, wall clocks and calendars like never before. Identifying with Villa felt special again, seeing the influx of Villa branded items around the streets.

More importantly, Villa won the Uganda Cup at the end of the 2014/2015 season, Misagga’s first at the helm. Villa had last won anything domestically in 2009. Consequently Villa returned to the continent for the first time since 2005.

In many ways, Misagga was a new dawn at Villa, as the club played six games in the Caf Confederation Cup, albeit the fact that they ended up losing their ultimate round 1-7 on aggregate to Morocco’s FUS Rabat.

It was work in progress; one so much, that attracted StarTimes sponsorship of Villa of Shs 260 million each year for five years, beginning November 2015.

The Observer understands that the StarTimes sponsorship deal has also gone with the departure of Misagga. Misagga’s handling of the coaching staff at Villa left a lot to be desired. In his reign, Villa has had eight coaches, but none was more remarkable than the Spanish tactician Antonio Flores.

Although the man’s only qualification upon being hired in July 2015 was of a physical education trainer, Misagga said in one interview on Dembe FM, that Flores had a UEFA ‘A’ license, the second highest level of coaching qualifications in Europe.

That is just one of the many untruths, that defined Misagga’s tenure. In fact, according to a source in Fufa, Flores had been given a period of grace until January 2016, when there would be an opportunity for him to enroll and study the Caf ‘C’ license programme in Uganda.

This is the start up qualification level in Africa. Unfortunately, Flores resigned in October 2015, following a wave of bad results at Villa. But even before Flores arrived, Misagga had already told the Villa fraternity, that the club would make packed water (Villa water) and Villa flour as business projects for more revenue.

While many believed Misagga, in actual sense, he went into a deal with a mineral water making company, which branded some of its water with the Villa logo; the same way many corporate companies, hotels and wedding couples have water bottles branded with pictures or logos of their choice.

Over the years, Misagga has refuted that suggestion, insisting that Villa made water although the money was siphoned away by some individuals at the club. But his critics say that is a lie. An official, who preferred anonymity said that no one beyond Misagga and his finance director Moses Musasizi, even knew anything about how much the club collected on the gates.

In addition, Villa did not even hold an Annual General Assembly (AGM), where proper accountability was presented to the fraternity, for the full length of Misagga’s term, Dennis Mbidde, one of Misagga’s sternest critics noted. In response, Misagga said that he largely single-handedly managed the club’s finances, so there was no need to account to anyone like Mbidde, who only wanted to be fed by the club.

Nevertheless, Misagga said that after every season, he called the fans extra-ordinary meeting like was the case last Sunday, to tell his constituents of the team’s standing, and which players were being signed or let go of.

Goalkeeper Samson Kirya was one of the young players unveiled by Misagga before the 2015/2016 season. But by the end of his three-year contract, the sign-on fee of Shs 4 million he had agreed to before upending his signature has never been cleared.

Furthermore, Kirya revealed that only twice of the just ended season, does he remember the team ever being paid their full wages. This is something backed by a host of other Villa players, although Misagga dismissed it as fake news.

Worse still, the players revealed that they were never paid during off-season throughout Misagga’s tenure. Misagga said that it is normal practice to only pay, when they are active.

How this happened under the watch of Fufa is surprising. Paul Mukatabala, the chief executive officer of the Uganda Football Players Association said it is something he noted with concern a few years ago. Yet, nothing changed. But Mukatabala was Villa assistant coach last season.

Oftentimes, when Misagga unveiled players, he categorically said that these were his players. As it turns out, he meant this literally. A number of agreements the players entered into at Villa, were with ‘Lusaka Commodities’.

But Fifa, the world football governing body outlawed third party ownership of players, which players entering into agreement with Lusaka Commodities is. A player must belong to a club. Misagga denied that Lusaka Commodities owned Villa, but was simply a director, because it had lent Villa millions of money.

That said, The Observer learnt that in recent weeks, Lusaka Commodities was reportedly the one that sold some of Villa’s prized assets like Nicholas Kasozi to KCCA FC.

Apparently, Misagga was determined to re-coup some of his money, which is why he contacted KCCA FC and Soana FC, leaving Villa without players.

Ivan Kakembo, the Villa CEO said these were Misagga’s players. So, he was within his right to trade them. Beyond that, Misagga is said to have left Villa in debt. For example, the office space they have been renting in Mengo has not been paid for, for the last 15 months.

Also, the Villa Park ground is apparently owed two years rent and Soccanett, the sports shop from which they got equipment.

Actually, there are reports that some of the people, who have not been paid, have chosen to go to court, to have their arrears cleared. But they also have a deeper concern, that Misagga is planning to dissolve the Lusaka Commodities company, so that they get no pay.

However, Kakembo is not aware of anyone Misagga owed a dime, because they have not come out. He added, that even if it were the case, it is no abnormal to be indebted. Kakembo has been charged to wrap his Misagga’s reign by July 30, and hand over office to Fufa by then.

How Villa moves on now is most important. Sources tell The Observer that the club’s former leaders, including Omar Ahmed Mandela, William Nkemba and Franco Mugabe, who formed the original board of SC Villa Limited, set up in 2010, have been holding meetings on how to get the club back on track and in their control.

They seem to favour a combination of Mbidde and Edgar Agaba, to steer the club forward, after Misagga’s departure. In fact, they have met some of the players (Vitalis Tabu, Martin Kizza and Samson Kirya), to avert a player exodus, that could have big ramifications on the club’s fortunes next season. Behind the scenes, the management expected to take over from Misagga appears to be set.

jovi@observer.ug

Comments

0 #1 Dun 2018-07-24 10:53
Many thanks Vianne for that well researched piece. I knew only a person like you could give us a full insight of the state of SC Villa.

Even with all those mistakes, Misagga was a necessary evil at SC Villa. His timing at coming to SC Villa was good as well as his departure.

Much as Misagga himself was wrong to own the club as a sole proprietor, the Nkembas are also wrong to own SC Villa as a small group of rich people.

They should float shares for us the fans/supporters such that we can have that sense of belonging and ownership.

In fact it is because of the individualistic approach to business that Missagga was able to successfully take over the club from them.

Any hurried efforts to solve this impasse will only take us to square one - confusion.

It doesn't matter if the transition period is one year as long as the club is given the opportunity to set up long lasting administrative structures.
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