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How Football Transfers Work – Story Retold in Ugandan Perspective

Transfer Window is one of the most exciting phrases in football. Its that period of the year when fans are glued on the radio to learn if their club has landed that striker it has been chasing, players always in touch with their agents, various club CEOs are in tireless negotiations while journalists are refreshing their phones waiting for that one tip.

The moment I see Mbarara City FC’s Hillary Mukundane looking for a new house to rent these ends of Entebbe road (Vipers) or Shafic Kagimu following KCCA on Twitter or Steven Mukwala in a restaurant with a familiar club official, I start to smell something. I don’t have to wait for an official unveiling, otherwise I will be scooped.

It’s just madness. Tense. Exciting.

It happens twice a year; according to FUFA head of competitions Hajjat Aisha Nalule, the longest window happens before the season kicks off from July 1st to September 21 while the other one is the mid-season window that happens the whole of January.

It’s always during that period of the year in which a player can transfer from one club to another.

As you already know, a transfer in football is a business transaction between two clubs and the club wishing to secure the services of a player is expected to put on table a transfer fee if the player is still under contract.

Express FC captain Dissan Galiwango is one of the players on many club’s radars. Courtesy

Explaining The Process

We have categorized this explanation into two phases; a scenario where a club wants to buy a player who is already out of contract and second scenario when a club wants to acquire a player who is still under contract with his current club.

In the first scenario (Club Vs Out of contract); a team will link with a player or his representative for discussion over terms of work.

“If the negotiations are successful, a player or his agent MUST have to avail; contract expiry form fully signed by former club or present copy of expired contract, Passport and National ID” says Former Express FC CEO Hamza Junju.

“The current (new) club provides a contract which is to be signed by new club CEOs, player and player agent if any. Then the current club sends transfer request to former club for approval, the former club responds and deal is complete.”

In the second scenario (Club Vs Player under contract), Junju says that its the most tricky one.

“Wanting club sends transfer request to current club which opens up room for discussion between two clubs to agree on transfer fees,” he narrates.

“If clubs agrees, wanting club meets a player ( and or his representative) to discuss player terms like sign-on fees, salary and other allowances.

“Upon approval, player has to present National ID and passport. Sign off contract with new club and former club accepts/approves request on the TMS system if approved, then transfer is accepted.”

To summaries what is said above, the deal involves a buying club submitting a bid and then negotiations can only go underway if the club is willing to sell their player!

It looks simple, right? But before we answer yes or no, who is an agent and what is his role?

Agent Geoffrey Kayemba (middle) has blockered many deals local and international as well.

The Role Of An Agent

In short, an agent can be called a go-between, but in football scenario, we prefer to call him a player representative. Normally, an agent comes in during contract negotiations and represents a player’s interests.

Geoffrey Kayemba Ssolo (read Uganda’s Mino Raiola) says that his role among others is to negotiate the best deal for his player.

He adds: “I come in to advise the player and also choosing the best option that will work for him in terms of advancement or financially and career wise. During signing of contracts, we look into the exit plans, we can put in some buyout clauses in some contracts things like that.

“We are involved in pricing the player because I know the value of my player, a team will suggest like Sh20M yet you feel that your player is around Sh40M, so you will have to renegotiate. Some teams despise a lot but you have to convince them.

On challenges agents face, Kayemba says: ” Some administrators have given us a lot of headache, they don’t want to embrace the fact that football has evolved and hence a must for every footballer to have an agent.”

Tapping Up – The Dark Side

Tapping up is a common infamous practice as far as conducting football transfers in Uganda is concerned. It involves attempts made the buying club to persuade a contracted player without the official consent from his current team.

In lay man’s understanding, a buying club starts to talk to the player without communicating with his current club first.

“It is very illegal,” says Wakiso Giants CEO Sula Kamoga in a bitter tone. “Normally, these teams do it to find a loophole within the contact of the player. After a player is contacted without your knowledge, you will see him starting to act; arriving late for training, unruly, not acting as expected by the coach, not giving 100% on the pitch, all with the intentions of forcing a way out.”

“But I think the practice (player tapping up) is a waste on most occasions because at the end of the day, even though you unsettle my player, you will have to face me for a transfer.”

Kamoga explains that the accepted and right way is to officially contact the club, whether through writing or a phone call to see if the team is willing to sell.

Last week, Police FC coach Abdallah Mubiru, accused KCCA FC gaffer Mike Mutebi of ‘tapping up’ on his players.

A lot of illegal work happens behind the scenes and most have accused the agents and players of being money minded.

Club officials sensitised about Transfer matching system last year. FUFA

Transfer Matching System – Technology

FUFA provided an online platform for member clubs (UPL and Big League) to record player transfers between them – Domestic Transfer Matching System (DTMS).

Hajjat Aisha Nalule states that the platform’s purpose is to improve transparency, efficiency and governance between FUFA and clubs.

It works in a way that the two teams involved in a transfer enter details of the transfer and these details must match in order for the transfer to be approved.

A club can use the platform to send its transfer request (read bid) to a club where they want to buy a player from.

“It’s still new and many teams are yet to understand how it works,” Hajjat Nalule who heads the competitions department, says. “Many lower division clubs take long or fail to respond to requests.”

“Sometimes these teams provides National IDs whose details don’t match with what is on the passport. Some teams want to file these documents at the last hour which doesn’t give us enough time to look through what has been submitted. The teams will agree a transfer of a player but it’s not a deal until it’s captured by our system.”

Asuman Alishe (middle) and coach Douglas Bamweyana. Courtesy photo

Sign-on Fee/Bonus – Sometimes a Myth

The sign-on fee or bonus is a sum of money paid to a player by his new club as an incentive for joining them.

“It’s a very important fee,” says SC Villa defender Asuman Alishe. “I am very grateful that I have been paid sign-on fee for every club I have signed for but most players don’t get, sometimes they are deceived and after signing, they will demand it but in vain until they leave the club.”

“Give me Sh20M as sign-on and Sh1M as monthly salary, than promising me a monthly salary of Sh3M with a sign-on of around Sh5M. I will know that with that 20M, I can buy a plot of land, because we all know that somehow that monthly salary may not come regularly as expected.

“These young players especially are always excited when joining big teams and they end up being uses by dubious club administrators and agents.”

Alishe says that players need sensitisation from the concerned and should be advised, or seek advice where necessary.

When considering to join a new team, Alishe notes that he will have to consider sign-on fee, will the club have offer him enough playing time? What is the relationship with the coach or other top bosses, things like that.

Vipers SC winger Allan Kayiwa puts pen on paper. Vipers media

What’s The Role Of The Coach In All This?

It’s surprising that we have not tackled this part – a coach’s role in a football transfer. Does he have anything to offer this period? A big yes. But sometimes, they are hugely ignored.

“It’s the coach who identifies a player he needs,” starts Coach Douglas Bamweyana who has been at Maroons FC, Express and SC Villa. “But it so happens that in Uganda, it’s not the case. Most administrators want to do almost everything and they end acquiring players or selling players without your knowledge, you may end up having like five left backs and with just one striker.”

“A coach must be around when these negotiations are made, otherwise, these players end up being exploited.”

In a normal setting, a coach will make his list of players he wants in a given window and forwards this list to the top bosses, say CEO, who will do the rest.

Former Express FC CEO Hamza Junju


Players undergo a medical examination and physical fitness test before a transfer is finalised.

“All our players go to Case Medical Centre for thorough check up especially so we get health reports from case hospital,” confirmed former Express FC CEO Hamza Junju.

During this medical tests which can take days, a doctor will give a report on a player’s muscle strength, ability of the bones, body height, weight, ability of the hearts and lungs, pulse rate, blood pressure and many others.

There have been fewer scenarios when a player has failed his medical, and more often, it’s not something that is publicised.

Vipers and KCCA head of communications Abdul Wasike (left) and Moses Magero (right). Courtesy.

Done DealMedia Vs Club

Another famous statement.

“I only confirm that we have signed a player when I read the news from the club official pages,” says Vipers fan, Simon (other name withheld).

In most cases, these deals appear in the media before officially communicated by the clubs. A reporter will be tipped-off about a potential deal from his friend who is an agent or a player himself or any club official.

And in rare scenarios, a media person can happen to be at a perfect place at the perfect time.

“I remember seeing Erisa Ssekisambu who was a free agent last year walking into the gates of Lugogo (StarTimes Stadium) off a boda boda. I needed nothing more. Ran to Sideline (a nearby restaurant) and filed in the story. I received many calls from KCCA guys saying that its false (deal) but I never shaken, and days later, the deal was confirmed,” says Joel Muyita, who writes with Kawowo Sports.

KCCA FC head of communications Moses Magero says that the club confirms a signing when both parties have agreed that is KCCA FC, player’s representative and his former club if he was not a free agent.

“We get many calls from journalists and we will inform them what is ready for consumption and leave what is not ready to be consumed. It happens everywhere, media has some information they can probably get from player’s representative but we try as much. We only unveil done deals not imminent.”

Editor: As the transfer window heats up, remember to checkout The-SportsNation.com for the latest.

Brian Kawalya

Brian Kawalya

Chief Sports Writer
Brian Kawalya is an Award winning Journalist, Director and Chief Sports Writer of The-SportsNation, covering top events and breaking some of the biggest stories.
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