By KATE OBODO
Technical Consultant of Heartland Football Club of Owerri, Christian Chukwu has said that the Nigeria Premier League is still on the low side and not yet a true professional league like the foreign leagues.
According to the former Super Eagles coach, “the Nigerian league is still on the low side. For me, it is not a true professional league. A true professional league is one where all the clubs are run through Public Limited Companies, PLC or are privatised. Then it could afford them have their own club houses, stadia, pitches, like the Ikoyi Golf Club and other clubs.
“How did they get it? If not through their members’ corporate bodies. If we have people like these running our league, government will gradually hands off control of our league. In Europe, clubs are run by corporate bodies, even private individuals and not government.
“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t see the Nigeria Premier League as a true professional league. We don’t have foreign players that could attract the crowd, even when our players are retiring, they will go to the Arab world or countries that are below our standard . I could remember, when Rashidi Yekini came back to the country to play for our league, that year, he drew a lot of crowd. Not when a player scores two or three goals in the league and an agent sees it and takes him abroad to play for a country which league is below the standard of ours, all because our economy is weak.
“Really, if we want to run a professional league, government must not sponsor clubs. Professionalism is when clubs are on their own, with that sponsors would start coming in. Sponsors cannot come when government is heavily involved in their running. Without government interference in the league and we have corporate bodies sponsoring it, when foreign players come in, fans would want to come and watch matches.
“This is why when Kano Pillars and Rangers are playing, fans are not eager to go to the stadium and even if they do, it is for the name. It is surprising that fans of today find it difficult to identify our teams or players.
In the past, once a team is playing, you could see fans wearing their jerseys just as it is with the foreign leagues. Today in our league, the reverse is the case. Fans now wear anything they like because they are confused. A Nigerian fan cannot name two players playing in our local league but can mention 13 or 20 players playing in the English Premiership without making a mistake.
So many things need to be put in order if we must run a true professional league. We could start with four or five clubs that meet the requirements of of a true professional league,” he concluded.