Getting promoted to the Nigeria Professional Football League was a thing of joy for Remo Stars – but that joy may have been short-lived.
Following the crowd violence that marred the Remo Stars vs Bendel Insurance game on Sunday, just after playing one game in the elite cadre, the League Management Company (LMC) has reeled out a long list of punishment for the Sagamu-based club.
In Sunday’s NPFL Match Day 3, Bendel Insurance took the lead in the 54th minute with a goal from Charles Omokaro. While the Remo stars levelled the score line in the 76th minutes, courtesy of Victor Mbaoma’s goal.
Problem however started when the centre referee, Bethel Nwanesi, denied Remo Stars’ Ekene Awazie’s goal in the 82nd minute, and termed it an offside.
The chairman of Remo Stars of Sagamu, Kunle Soname, had threatened to drag referee, Mr Nwanesi, to the world football governing body, FIFA.
According to Mr Soname, the referee was grossly incompetent and made many questionable calls.
Speaking with journalists after Remo Stars drew 1-1 against Bendel Insurance in Sagamu on Sunday, Mr Soname said that the centre referee was incompetent to handle a league match and that this was the worst he had witnessed in the league.
In a statement on its website on Monday night, the LMC said after deliberations on reports of the attack on match officials by supporters of Remo Stars, it decided to fine Remo Stars a total of N6 million and has also directed that the club plays its next three home matches in Osogbo, Osun State.
The chairman of Remo Stars FC, Mr Soname, was also banned from further participation in the next three Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) matches and fined N1 million for granting a media interview in which he made comments that brought the league to disrepute.
Mr Soname was also charged for conducts and utterances that did not show positive example to players and supporters.
Also charged and sanctioned is the club’s Team Manager, Yinka Ajayi, who has been suspended for the rest of the season from all NPFL matches.
The LMC also ruled that Remo Stars stands to forfeit three points should such incident occur again during the season, while the club was also directed to assist relevant security agencies to apprehend and prosecute two of their supporters, identified as Akintan Yinka and Zico.
The sanctions are a fall-out of the pitch invasion and attack on match officials at the end of the match which ended 1-1.
Remo Stars has been ordered to ensure that “measures are immediately put in place to forestall future similar occurrence (including but not limited to an approved revised security plan, seminar/programme for supporters, issuance of seat-numbered tickets, etc.)”.
The club has also been directed to, within seven days, ensure the apprehension and prosecution by the relevant security agencies of the persons identified as Akintan Yinka and ‘Zico’ who were reported to have led the assault on the match officials, as well as other persons who participated in the assault on Match Officials; upon failure of which a fine of N25, 000.00 (Twenty Five Thousand Naira only) per day shall accrue, until such time as the culprits are apprehended and charged to court.
The sanctions are contained in a letter to the club signed by the LMC Chief Operating Officer, Salihu Abubakar. The club has also been asked to respond in writing, within 48 hours, indicating acceptance of the decisions or electing to appear before a commission.