The Federal Government has withdrawn its recognition of the League Management Company (LMC) as the operator of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Ismaila Abubakar, announced this in a statement on Friday in Abuja.
Stressing that the decision was with immediate effect, he explained that it was taken in view of the several unpleasant incidents regarding the management of the football league, specifically the declaration of the National Football League (NFL) as an illegal body by a court.
Abubakar stated that the government also considered the status of the LMC, and the NFL’s successor-in-title being outside the purview of the statutes of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
“This decision has become necessary because of the obvious aberration (which is at variance with our football statutes or the laws of the land) whereby a private company is gifted the mandate to manage or run the league indefinitely, without the full involvement of and leadership by the clubs, and devoid of any process to monitor the progress and development of the game,” the statement said.
“Sequel to the above, and in order to rescue our domestic football from total collapse, the Board of the LMC and the LMC as a body would no longer be recognised by the Federal Government as operator of the Nigerian Professional Football League.
“To avert further chaos in our domestic football, the NFF is advised to immediately withdraw the licence given to the LMC and, in the meantime, set up an Interim Management Committee (IMC), to include the current Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of the LMC to oversee the affairs of the league until a proper Professional League Board is constituted in accordance with the statutes of the NFF.”
The League Management Company (LMC) on Friday handed a N3m fine on Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan for fans’ assault on a sports journalist Tobi Adepoju. It also asked the club to pay him N500,000.
Tobi was attacked at the Lekan Salami Stadium in Ibadan on Wednesday following the team’s 1-1 draw with Remo Stars in a Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) match. Police operatives had to wade in to rescue him from the irate fans.
In its reaction to the incident, the LMC condemned the attack, describing it as “capable of bringing the game to disrepute”.
“The Club has been fined a total of N3m plus a N500,000 compensation to Mr. Adepoju for lost valuables and medical bills and their stadium has been closed to fans for the remaining fixtures of the season while a further breach will lead to their being directed to play outside the Southwest,” the LMC added in a statement on its Facebook page, saying 3SC breached Rule B13.52 and Rule B8.21 and Rule C1.1 of the LMC Rule Book.
“3SC also stands the risk of two points deduction to last for a probational period ending with the season while the Media Officer, Tosin Omojola, and Kits Manager, Mr. Majolagbe Kolawale have been expelled from all NPFL related activities for a minimum period of 12 months in the first instance.”
Earlier, the club had apologised to Tobi over the incident, pledging to investigate the assault.
They also condemned a comment credited to the team’s Media Officer Tosin Omojola in which he reportedly said there would be no repercussion for the incident.
“The Management of the Club wish to state that the utterances he was reported to have made were his personal opinion and do not represent the position of the Club in regards to the incident of Wednesday, June 1, 2022, after the match involving 3SC and Remo Stars,” 3SC said in the statement signed by their Executive Chairman Babatunde Olaniyan
“The Club would not support any utterance, comment, or opinion that tends to promote violence or put the lives of others in danger. The Club regrets the unfortunate attack on Mr Tobi Adepoju and condemns it in its entirety.”
The Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick has approved the recommendation of the League Management Company (LMC) for the appointment of Davidson Owumi as the new Chief Executive Officer of the organising body for the Nigeria Professional Football League.
Owumi, who has had a stellar career both as a player and club administrator, is expected to resume office after the upcoming annual general meeting of the League Management Company.
He replaces Hon. Nduka Irabor, a celebrated journalist and former Member of the House of Representatives, was the first Chairman of the LMC before becoming its CEO and resigned from the position months ago.
“The LMC has started the new season on a positive note, putting their best foot forward with the telecast of the matches on NPFL.TV and some star games on NTA. The excitement is back and the spirit is right. It is the right time to bring in a class act like Owumi to help in steering the ship in the sterling direction that it has assumed,” NFF President Pinnick said on Wednesday.
Davidson Owumi is a titan in Nigeria domestic football as a player and administrator of note. He started playing the game from his primary school days, and then played for Government College, Ughelli, NEPA FC and NNPC FC both of Warri, Flash Flamingoes, Bendel United, Sharks FC of Port Harcourt among others, and had stints in Greece, Cyprus, Qatar and Spain in his professional football odyssey. He also featured briefly for the senior national team.
Owumi emerged the League’s highest goal scorer in 1993, and three years later, became the coach of 1977 Africa Cup Winners’ Cup champions, Rangers International FC of Enugu.
Since then, he has served as Chairman of the club, served as MD/CEO of Warri Wolves, served as Board Member of Nigeria Premier League and as Chairman of the Nigeria Premier League. He is presently General Manager of Rangers International FC of Enugu.
“Owumi’s pedigree is impressive and we believe he will greatly complement the work that the LMC has been doing and help drive the new thinking, new vision and new direction. It was not an easy task to secure his release by the Enugu State Government to take up the LMC CEO’s position, and we quite understand. He is an asset to any establishment,” Pinnick added.
The League Management Company has approved 13 stadiums across the country for the upcoming 2020/21 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season.
The certification process is part of the broader club licensing regime, and the LMC explained that the 13 approved grounds met minimum requirements to host games.
Another 11 were recommended for varying degrees of upgrade and repair works before they can be certified.
The 13 approved grounds include Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos; Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo; Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin; Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba; and Okigwe Township Stadium.
Others that met the certification requirements are Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi; Gombe Township Stadium, Pantami; Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi; Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna; Enyimba International Stadium, Aba; Muhammad Dikko Stadium, Katsina; and Ilorin Township Stadium, Ilorin.
Listed for upgrade and repair works are 11 stadiums but Umuahia Township Stadium and Dutse Township Stadium were recommended for complete re-modeling and re-construction.
The rest were listed as requiring repairs varying from relaying of new synthetic grass, regressing, provision of floodlights, television camera platforms, and upgrade of changing rooms as well as provision of additional exit and entry gates among others basic requirements.
They are Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano, Agege Stadium, Akure Township Stadium, Warri Township Stadium, New Jos Township Stadium, and Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu.
The rest are Lafia Township Stadium, Ifeanyi Ubah Stadium, Nnewi, and Fufure Stadium, Yola which will be inspected for certification after construction work has been completed.
The League Management Company has communicated the development to the clubs in a memo that reads:
“In line with the CAF Circular of July 26, 2020, on stadium infrastructure among others, which was forwarded to you and the need to meet up with the requirements of high-quality television production by our new partners, the LMC has reviewed various reports submitted on the state of our stadia across the country”.
It further explained that the inspected stadiums have been categorised into two; A and B with Category A representing those that have been approved to host NPFL matches for the season having met the minimum requirements while Category B includes those requiring upgrades.
“We have made notes on the areas/repairs needed to be done before recertification”, the memo stated.
Clubs whose home or preferred grounds have been recommended for upgrade would have to choose from any of the certified grounds if they are unable to complete the upgrade before the commencement of the season.
The League Management Company has recommended the suspension of 15 officials who officiated in 5 match-day 14 fixtures of the Nigerian Professional Football League.
Some of the officials include Moroof Afolabi, Akinsanya Segun and Alhaji Alhaji who officiated the game between Go Round FC and Enugu Rangers.
Also recommended for suspension are the officials who took charge of the games between Heartland and Nasarawa United, Lobi Stars vs Rivers United, Yobe Stars and Enyimba and FC Ifeanyiubah versus Plateau United.
According to the LMC, the referees were well below the standard expected in the NPFL including questionable decisions and failure to submit match reports on time.
The National Association of Nigerian Professional Footballers (NANPF) has vowed to keep up pressure on clubs to pay their players their wages and salaries.
The renewed commitment came after the association reached an agreement with the League Management Company to work together in ensuring backlogs are settled.
The 2016/2017 Premier League season begins on Saturday with many clubs yet to pay their players and coaches their salaries and bonuses from previous seasons.
NANPF General Secretary, Austin Popo, who expressed his disappointment with the refusal of the majority of the clubs to pay their players, said the body had decided to work with the LMC.
It was learnt that the players’ union and other groups had allegedly pressured the LMC to suspend the league until the players were paid their entitlements.
It was also learnt that the groups decided to make a U-turn after allegedly coming under pressure from some of the clubs and the LMC.
However, Popo said the players’ body would put defaulting clubs under pressure through the LMC for the players to be paid their entitlements.
The former Flying Eagles forward said that Warri Wolves, Taraba United and Heartland were among the clubs still owing their players.
According to Popo, “The painful thing about the debts owed these players by the clubs is that the managers and owners of these clubs are frustrating our efforts at retrieving the debts, hence we have decided to work directly with the LMC, who have assured us that the debts would be paid before the new season begins, to avoid a repeat of the past situations.
“These club owners have some recovered monies paid to them but they have refused to pay their players.
“Many club owners have these monies but divert them and conveniently owe these players knowing full well that the players would not want to go on strike when we call on them to do so.
“The players only speak out after leaving the clubs owing them for another one, hence they don’t help the cause.”
He added: “In the new season, players’ welfare is going to be our major focus as we have always done.
“We have met with the LMC and the list of players who are owed by their clubs and their account numbers have been forwarded to them (LMC). The LMC will pay them from the entitlements due to the indebted clubs.
“Some clubs have been responding. For instance, Bayelsa United and Gombe United have paid their players as of last week.
“Although the LMC have been doing a lot since they came on board, we have met with them and let them understand that the wages issue could cause disruptions in the league if not properly handled.”
The Management of the Ondo State Football Agency, ODSFA has inaugurated the Sunshine Stars’ U-13, U-15 and U-17 teams.
This, according to the agency, was in a bid to ensure that talented footballers in all the nooks and crannies of the state are given opportunity to be part of Sunshine Stars,
The ceremony took place at the football village office of the state football agency at Oda road in Akure.
Addressing the players, President of Sunshine Stars Football Club, Prince Dapo Ajibade, while congratulating the players, charged them to live up to their dreams.
Prince Ajibade, who is also the ODSFA boss, stressed the importance of the project.
According to him, the project will be coordinated by the Technical Department of the agency under the supervision of Deputy Director, Mr Kayode Julius.
“We thank God Almighty for this day as we begin another process of football development. It is very important to have Sunshine Stars’ teams at the U-13, U15 and U-17 levels so as to give room for development and progression in addition to empowering and giving future to the talented players”.
The ODSFA Chairman added that the agency would make available all logistics to make the project huge success, as sporting equipment needed would be provided.
“25 balls will be given to each team which will also get 2 sets of bibs as well as some medical facilities in addition to soccer boots that will be given to each of the 25 players in each team.
“Coach Chinedu Obi is in charge of the U-13 team while Coach Sunday Adewoye will tutor the U-15 team, just as Coach Monday Eche will oversee the players at the U-17 level.
“The teams’ general coordinator is Mr Shina Afuye while Mr Abideen Ayeloja will serve as the teams’ manager,” he said.
The Technical Director of the agency, coach Sunday Erelesusi charged all members of the technical staff to show good morals and commitment needed to mentor the young talents.
Meanwhile, the ODSFA Management has approved the appointment of Mr Abiodun Kehinde Johnson, popularly known as Legacy as one of the scouts working for Sunshine Stars.
Abiodun Kehinde Johnson as a footballer had stints with Works Rangers of Akure, Crown of Ogbomoso, 1st Bank of Lagos, Rising Stars of Ondo and Sunshine Stars of Akure.
The new Sunshine Stars Scout promised to use his wealth of experience to bring quality players to the Akure based team.
Sunshine Stars and Abia Warriors have been sanctioned by the League Management Company, (LMC), for disruptive behaviour by their fans in recent matches in the Nigerian football league.
A total fine of 2.7 million naira has been imposed on the Sunshine Stars for breaching various rules including failure to provide adequate security, as well as for assaulting match officials.
The assaulted assistant referee and the injured Heartland official will be paid compensations of 250,000 naira each from the fine.
Abia Warriors on the other hand, were sanctioned for the conduct of their fans in the match day 34 fixture, against FC Ifeanyi Ubah and have been fined a total of 2.5 million naira, in addition to playing two matches behind closed door.
The club management has been given until close of business on Friday, September 16, to respond in writing, indicating acceptance of the charges or electing to appear before a commission.
According to the Summary Jurisdiction Notice issued to the club, the fans who assaulted the match officials must be apprehended by Abia Warriors and handed over to law enforcement agencies for prosecution.
A High Court in Bukuru, Plateau State, has suspended the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
The court said the suspension would be operational until the League Management Company (LMC) fully complied with its earlier order to reinstate Giwa Football Club to the professional league competition.
Justice Ishaku Kunda in his ruling on Wednesday granted the plaintiff’s prayer for the re-validation of the earlier order, following LMC’s failure to honour the court’s order.
He ordered that the league be suspended until the determination of the appeal filed by the defendants at the upper court.
Justice Kunda said the order was issued to ensure the case did not become an academic exercise, since the league was about to be concluded.
Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) side, Ikorodu United of Lagos, has secured approval from the League Management Company (LMC) to play their remaining home fixtures of the season at the MKO Abiola stadium in Abeokuta.
The struggling Lagos club were penalised by the LMC for crowd trouble during their week 30 fixture against the Shooting Stars of Ibadan.
After the penalty, the Oga boys were directed to continue the rest of the season in Lagos.
But the club side said they would prefer to stay in the southwest town of Abeokuta since they could not guarantee the full control of the crowd and general safety at the Onikan stadium in Lagos.
Representatives of the governments of Nigeria and Spain witnessed the landmark signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a five-year technical and commercial partnership between the League Management Company of Nigeria (LMC) and the Spanish League Board (LFP).
Chairman of the LMC, Shehu Dikko, singed for the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) while the President of LaLiga, Javier Tebas signed for the Spanish League, with Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, and the Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, Alfonso Barnuevo Sebastian de Erice, counter- signing as witnesses for their respective national leagues.
A New Page In History
Highlighting the long standing sporting relationship between the two leagues was the presence of some former Nigerian international players who at some stages in the past played for La Liga clubs – Victor Ikpeba, who played for Real Betis, Mutui Adepoju, who played for Racing Santander and Real Sociedad, Gbenga Okunowo and Haruna Babangida, both of whom played for Barcelona clubs.
While Dalung described the relationship as “a new page in the history of football administration in Nigeria, Banuevo offered assurances that the partnership would produce “a win-win outcome” for both Nigeria and Spain.
For Dikko, the LMC chairman, the NPFL and La Liga partnership marks the beginning of “a journey through a new road hitherto not travelled in an effort to deliver on our mandate to improve the quality and fortunes of the football league in Nigeria along international best practices.”
“We are pleased to be leading reforms and to achieve that, we decided to align with global best practices by emulating those doing things well and right. We have a lot to learn and benefit from the La Liga and we believe that the La Liga also has some things to learn from us,” Dikko said.
The partnership agreement, which will run for five years will in the first instance focus on key areas of capacity development, training for coaches and club administrators; inter club exchanges and commercial activities including joint marketing.
“There is a fight for the heart and pocket of Nigerians to love and buy into our domestic football league and La Liga is ready to work with us on that.
“Stakeholders are already getting interested, as they have seen one of the best leagues in the world associating with us.
“This will help us move forward and many more good things will follow. We shall move from this point to a point where we will in turn begin to support other leagues in Africa,” the LMC Chairman stated.
Tebas said that the La Liga will through the partnership provide assistance to the NPFL in the areas of training of Coaches, club administrators and exchange of playing tours by La Liga and NPFL Clubs.
“For us at La Liga, if through this partnership, the NPFL is developed, it is of benefit for La Liga,” declared the Spanish League President.
He said: “We would also be assisting Nigerian players where possible to get chances to play for La Liga Clubs”.
Ambassador Barnuevo, who had earlier received officials of the LMC and the La Liga on Monday and further graced the signing ceremony, said he was pleased to witness the epoch making event.
“I know how Nigerians love football and I can tell you that in this relationship, Nigeria and Spain will win. We already have strong social and economic relations and this MOU will further strengthen our sporting ties. We take this relationship serious because the La Liga is one of the most important companies in Spain.”
Nigeria’s Youth and Sports Minister, who had also received officials of both leagues in his office on Monday, also expressed delight at the consummation of the agreement and gave assurances that the partnership would unbundle and open up platforms for the exchange of ideas to engage young Nigerians.
“It will transcend beyond football to other areas and while we shall be relying on the expertise of the La Liga to improve our league, we also have something to offer which will benefit La Liga.”
The signing of the partnership, he said, was ” a mark of confidence and trust in Nigeria football and we look forward to more robust engagement in future”.