The League Management Company (LMC) has shifted focus to ensuring strict compliance with safety measures at match venues against the backdrop of rising numbers in spectatorship at matches of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
Over the past four seasons, the LMC has been working with clubs on strategies to win back fans to match venues after years of dwindling attendance attributed to such reasons as lack of fidelity of match outcomes, poor quality of pitches and absence of adequate security amongst others.
With public acclaim of the excitement of league games and the attendant return of fans to the stands, the LMC is reminding the clubs of the imperatives of always putting in place adequate measures for crowd control and safety of everyone at match venues on match days.
Attendance at NPFL matches has been rising with some games attracting full capacity and having some fans not able to gain access to the stands. There have been some photographs that showed possible breach of regulations in which it was observed that more fans may have been admitted to the games than stadium capacity can allow.
Citing Rules B15.19 of the 2016/17 Framework and Rules, the LMC reminded all clubs that match day tickets must be issued to all spectators to a match even if the gates were declared free.
The LMC said this is also in consonance with world football governing body, FIFA requirements as contained in FIFA Safety Regulations, Article 18.1 which states that “On match days, only persons in possession of valid permits shall be granted entry to the stadium. Valid permits include Match tickets, Workers’ identity cards and Passes”.
The memo signed by the LMC Chief Operating Officer, Salihu Abubakar explained that the measure was to ensure proper crowd control and for record purposes.
Noting that some clubs have of recent been observed to have failed to implement adequate crowd control measures, the LMC insisted that all Clubs are required to comply with and implement health and safety measures to prevent overcrowding of stands or the stadium, or other situations which may endanger the lives or wellbeing of spectators.
It also directed that clubs must put in place other safety requirements such as having trained stewards whose responsibility will include but not limited to monitoring the stands to ensure capacity of sectors assigned to them were not over crowded, directing fans to appropriate sitting areas and alerting authorities of risk situations.
Another requirement the LMC harped on is the provision of functional public address systems which should be operated on match days for announcements.