The Nigeria Football Federation, through its president, Amaju Pinnick, made a pronouncement on Monday concerning the Nigeria Professional Football League. He called for cooperation giving the current controversies surrounding the league.
“I am imploring the various Club Owners and other investors, promoters and facilitators, as well as the administrators of the two leagues, to see the current situation as a consequence of the special circumstances that we found ourselves and consider the best interest of Nigerian Football.
And then he lied – “Nobody foresaw these special circumstances.”
The league ended on June 13 by executive fiat because of a World Cup tournament that was four years in the planning – Russia 2018 was not an emergency but the NFF has to have an Emergency Committee to push the football calendar on track.
A chasm of 187 days and yet there is no definite pronouncement on when the various leagues would resume.
How can a league be classified as a professional one when a cough is all that is literally needed for it to go comatose? It has been interesting to see and read the many statements made by Pinnick concerning developing the local league – the real talent factory that is supposed to be the fulcrum of all football development in the country but actually beholding the sorry state and the dead end it has been run into by its supposed saviours.
The league was not concluded after the normal 38 weeks but by executive fiat after 24 weeks just so Nigeria would have representatives in the two CAF tournaments – Champions League and the Confederations Cup.
Meanwhile, the country’s coefficient has been degraded by continuous bad performances from representative clubs, which meant the NPFL will supply one team per competition as against the two slots allotted courtesy of the NPFL’s coefficient standing before the start of the 2018/19 phase.
Pinnick was unanimously re-elected for a second term last August and told Brila FM that one of the main objectives of his second term would be developing Nigeria’s football economy.
“Part of what we are coming to do in our second tenure is to build a football economy. Look at the sports eco-system of Nigeria; it’s quite ambitious, making football an integral part of the Nigerian economy.
“We need to do that, because football is not just about the social factor, it is a massive business. It gives the UK government 3.3 billion pounds, every year.”
Stats are only as good as the work that goes into making them and in the case of the NPFL, they will continue to be the poorer cousin of the Super Eagles, instead of the other way round. Of the 3.3 billion pounds Pinnick said the UK generates, it is very plausible that less than 10 per cent comes from their national team, the Three Lions.
The reverse is the case in Nigeria.
While the Super Eagles will at best be made up of 30 players and play 10 matches a year [a lot of these abroad], the local leagues – the NPFL and the Nigeria National League [NNL] is made up of 20 teams each – that makes at least 1000 players involved in more than 700 matches across the country.
These numbers say a lot for the potential that is lurking in the local leagues. But just like Nigeria’s inherent potential; it is still largely untapped!
Unity has also broken down between club owners, the League Monitoring Company, and the NFF concerning how many teams will be promoted and demoted. In a league that has a constitution and rules and regulations handbook, the current state shows crass leadership. There is no sacrosanct calendar, the referees are not to be trusted as arbiters of the game and there continues to be crowd trouble – talk of a product that is almost unsellable!
Pinnick told Complete Sports in April 2018, “Nigerian clubs will continue to struggle because they don’t have the structures and traditions of the Arab teams they are competing with on the continent.
“Again, we need to educate our football administrators, because they are our number one problem. They are dependent on government appropriations. They don’t know that if they run the clubs properly and independently, they would have more money for themselves and their families.
“We have tried it for the past 20 years and it did not work. People should come together and take over the running of clubs and give them good structures and tradition to challenge like in the days of old.”
Well said, but he should have included the fact that the NFF is Nigerian football’s greatest enemy with their actions and inactions. This is a body that stopped the league because its officials and that of the LMC was going to attend the World Cup, of which just one of the 23 listed players in the Super Eagles squad plays in the NPFL. An irony!