August 23, 2018

Club managers kick against Sept. 2 resumption of league season

Adeniyi Alaba of Sunshine Stars challenges Oyedeji Samuel of ABS. NPFL photo

Abuja – Some of the clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on Thursday in Abuja kicked against the planned resumption of 2017/2018 league season on Sept. 2.

These club officials, while reacting to the new resumption date, urged the League Management Company (LMC) to rather end the competition as it is presently.

The club managers added that LMC should declare the clubs leading on the league’s table as the country’s representatives in continental competitions next year.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the league’s resumption after its 2018 FIFA World Cup break was suspended by the LMC in July owing to the NFF crisis.

The league organising company however rolled out a schedule of the outstanding fixtures on Wednesday, with the Proposed Revised Schedule having Match Day 25 fixtures on Sept. 2.

The schedule has the league ending on Oct. 28 with the Match Day 38 fixtures.

Chibuzor Etuemena, the Chairman of Heartland Football Club of Owerri, said the new schedule of matches would not only impose financial burden on the clubs but also reduce competition.

“Apart from the financial constraints which the clubs will face, any crash programme now in terms of the rescheduling of outstanding matches will not produce quality champions,’’ he said.

Etuemena noted that the leadership tussle in the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has adversely affected the league competitions in the country.

“The crisis has already taken its toll on everyone, particularly the clubs who mostly depend on monthly subventions to prosecute their games.

“Now, it is practically impossible to meet the schedule of fixtures released by the LMC in financial terms,’’ he said.

The club chairman also said he found it foolhardy to subject players to such a rigorous schedule in view of the likely medical implications.

“In addition, since they are human beings, the quality of games to be witnessed in the NPFL will be undesirable.

“So, my humble suggestion is that the LMC should declare an emergency ending of the 2017/2018 league season and nominate the three leading clubs on the table to represent Nigeria in the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup,’’ he said.

Speaking also, the General Manager of Rangers International FC of Enugu, Davidson Owumi, said it would be impossible to prepare the teams technically with the announced schedule.

“With the way things are today, the teams will have to first of all fortify their squads well enough, and it may not be possible to carry out a proper technical preparation for that.

“If anything, the doctrine of fire brigade approach will still be seen to be much in existence in our football.

“The result of this is surely well known and it will leave us where we had been.’’

Paul Bassey, the General Manager of Uyo-based Akwa United FC, was equally in agreement with his colleagues, saying an early ending of the season would even be more beneficial than expected.

“Ending the league season now will afford the continental representatives for next season ample time to reorganise their squads, prepare technically and register properly before November ending,’’ he said.

NAN reports that registration of clubs and players for the 2019 CAF season usually hold in November.

Bassey added that if the domestic leagues were ended now, participating clubs would use the available time for preparations for the 2018/2019 season which has already kicked off in other countries.

“Clubs in the NPFL, Nigeria National League (NNL) and the Nationwide League One (NLO) will use the opportunity to prepare for a new season, and the 2018/2019 season has already kicked off in other countries as we all know,’’ he said.

Bassey also contended that Akwa United presently lacked the financial and technical ability to play three matches within eight days across the country.

“Playing matches from Sunday to Wednesday to Sunday and then Wednesday will be difficult for us, and criss-crossing Nigeria is an added problem.

“Let us not forget that clubs which go to Maiduguri and Damaturu on Sunday usually cannot make it back home till Tuesday evening, and if you add that to the Aiteo Cup which will soon begin, then it is herculean and killing,’’ he said.

NAN reports that the 2017/2018 NPFL season had began on Jan. 13 and was expected to end on Sept. 30.

But the NFF leadership tussle forced the organisers to put on hold its return from the World Cup break on July 18.(NAN)