Ahead of the 2020/2021 season of the Nigeria National League and in a renewed effort to ensure that lives of players and officials are adequately protected, the NNL leadership has reeled out important medical conditions aimed at safeguarding the fitness of players and officials on and off the pitch.
According to the league’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr Emmanuel Adesanya, it has become imperative considering recent incidents of deaths recorded on the field of play and the harsh effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The medical conditions are very clear on the rule books governing Association Football, it is a crusade that will ensure adequate medical facilities are provided at all times by Clubs in our League,” he said
Mr Adesanya reiterated the provisions of the NNL rule book on the need for every club to have medical professionals which should comprise the following:
1. A medical doctor, nurse, physiotherapist and masseur for matches.
2. Clubs are to carry out a medical examination on all contract players and coaches and have medical records of which should be made available for inspection by authorized representatives of the League body.
3. Players’ medical record to other clubs during transfer and negotiation of a player by the club holding the player.
4. Clubs are to maintain a medical insurance scheme approved by the NNL.
5. Compulsory first aid medical services at every match venue, with clubs and their state Football Associations providing stretchers and Ambulances well equipped with basic medical gadgets.
6. Clubs will present a certificate of medical fitness of all players and coaching staff. Such certificate must be endorsed by a doctor with his contact details from a reputable and designated government-owned medical centre in the state.
It is worthy to note that the NNL is working to synergize with reputable government-approved medical centres to ensure absolute compliance by the clubs.
The Football Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has endorsed the final table of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) for the 2019/2020 season, as prepared and released by the League Management Company (LMC).
At its virtual meeting held on Tuesday to deliberate on all the issues arising from the forced ending to the season by the COVID-19, the agreement reached by all stakeholders to use the Points-Per-Game (PPG) to determine the final table, and the subsequent petition by Rivers United FC, the Committee unanimously recommended that the NFF Executive Committee should endorse the LMC’s decision and the Final Table for the 2019/2020 season in line with the NFF Statutes.
It also charged the LMC to work out its calendar to ensure that very minimal number of matches were postponed for clubs taking part in continental competitions.
As part of its consultations on the matter, the NFF reached out to both continental-governing body, CAF, and world-governing body, FIFA, whose responses affirmed the position of the NFF Football Committee.
The meeting of the NFF Football Committee reviewed the following:
The process followed by the LMC from May 2020 when the NFF approved the decision to end the NPFL 2019/2020 season at Match Day 25 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, to July 2020 when it approved the NPFL table based on the PPG system with the top three teams to represent Nigeria in the 2020/2021 CAF Inter-Clubs Competitions.
The relevant provisions of the NPFL Rule Book that the LMC relied upon to end the season and adopt the PPG.
The Petition from Rivers Utd proposing for the LMC to use the Goal difference to break the tie.
The LMC’s response to Rivers Utd Petition seeking to clarify the issues and stating the basis of its decision.
From the above, the meeting established that:
The LMC followed all the due process of consultation with the NPFL Participating clubs and the NFF in coming to the decision to end the NPFL 2019/2020 Season at Match Day 25.
The PPG table was presented by LMC for discussions by the clubs including Rivers United since May 2020 and there were no objections on the standings and/or the application of the head-to-head to break the tie.
Indeed, it was the same table that was presented to the Government in June 2020 as part of discussions to end the league or go for a Super 6, given the Nation-wide Lockdown order announced as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Rivers Utd belatedly made a complaint on the PPG table standings only after the final decision to end the league was taken and weeks after the league standings were established.
The Clubs were duly carried along and voted twice in the final decision to end the league and use the PPG system, first by the 20 NPFL clubs at an internal meeting and second by the same clubs at the joint meeting between NFF, LMC, and the 20 NPFL Clubs. The majority of the clubs (18-2) voted to end the league and use the PPG system.
The Committee noted that the novel COVID-19 pandemic presented an ‘exceptional’ situation and disruptions globally that presented a ‘force majeure’ which warranted the decision to end the league.
The LMC duly adhered to and relied on the relevant provisions of the NPFL Rule Book in coming to a decision. Specifically, the ‘Force Majeure’ provisions and “Matters Not Provided for” under NPFL Rule Book Articles 15.24 and 15.2
NPFL Rule Book Article 15.24 unconditionally placed the authority and rights on the LMC to take the necessary decisions under the prevailing circumstances (Force Majeure occasioned by the Covid-19 Pandemic), having regard to the interest of fairness, good sportsmanship and overall interest of the game
The Rivers Utd Petition which relied on Clause 3 of the NPFL Rule Book (The Competition) does not apply under the circumstances (Force Majeure) as the clause is only relevant if the NPFL full season had been completed and/or the clubs have all played equal number of games (in which case the application of the PPG would be irrelevant).
The Application of the head-to-head on the NPFL 2019/2020 PPG Table to separate a tie was not limited to only Rivers Utd vs Enyimba but was also applied to decide the hierarchy between MFM and Wikki Tourists as well as between Jigawa and Nasarawa Utd.
Subsequently, the meeting resolved that:
That the LMC followed due process by consulting the participating clubs in coming to a decision on the PPG and its application.
That the majority of the NPFL Clubs duly voted (18-2) to end the league and adopt the PPG system to homologate the final league table.
That the LMC acted within its powers and authority and adhered to the letter of its rulebook (NPFL Rule Book) in coming to a decision on the final PPG-adjusted NPFL table which it adopted for the 2019/2020 season.
That the NFF does not have the power to overturn the decision of the LMC on the matter unless it is found to have flouted its own rules and regulations as contained in the NPFL Rule Book.
That the Committee, therefore, unanimously recommends that the NFF Executive Committee endorse the LMC decision and the Final NPFL 2019/2020 Season PPG table in line with the provisions of the NFF Statutes.
Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) club, Kano Pillars FC have announced their home matches for the 2020/2021 CAF Confederation cup will be played away from the pyramid city.
Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello stadiums are being considered as venues Pillars would choose from as adopted home for the preliminaries and possibly the group stages of the competition.
According to the Chairman of the club, Surajo Jambul, the Kano State government has given approval for the team to look for an alternative venue for their home matches as the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kofar Mata, is being used as one of the COVID-19 isolation centres in the state.
Jambul added that the management team would meet with officials of the stadiums in Kaduna and Bauchi States to discuss the possibility of hosting the Sai Masu Gida’s continental assignments.
After due consultations with appropriate authority, the selection would be done.
The chairman explained that the objective of the team was to progress to the group stages of the competition, so as to ensure easy passage to the final and then bring the trophy to Nigeria as winners.
He, therefore, urged the fans to be patient and accept the present situation of not having the Aiteo Cup holders play its continental matches in Kano.
Rangers FC have presented an insurance benefit worth N20m to the family of their late player, Ifeanyi George.
The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) side made the presentation on Tuesday to Sunday George, a brother to the late footballer.
We are shocked to hear of the sad passing of striker Ifeanyi George and Emmanuel Ogbu players of @rangersint . Both players were involved in a fatal auto crash earlier on Sunday. Our prayers and thoughts are with their families and Rangers’ Mgt. May their souls Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/LvJWra4fZt
“This has never happened before in Nigerian football,” Sunday George said. “But Ifeanyi has sacrificed himself for this; I definitely know this is going to be a stepping stone for other clubs to take a step.”
Also speaking during the event, the head coach of Rangers FC, Salisu Yusuf, said the demise of the footballer is a sad development.
According to him, “He (Ifeanyi) had done very well. He played the best football in his life. We hoped that at the end of the season he would have a new contract.”
Coach Salisu added that “He did very well but it (his death), was just very sad.”
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has explained why the Points-Per-Game (PPG) formula was adopted in concluding the 2019/2020 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season.
During a live Instagram session on Thursday, NFF’s President, Amaju Pinnick reiterated that it was the decision of the vast majority of the clubs in the NPFL, which was also subjected to careful analysis and consultations.
He said, “We did not just sit down and take a decision; we consulted widely even after the clubs opted for PPG following the work of the NFF Football Committee. The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development was also brought into the picture.”
The NFF also promised that financial support would be given to clubs in the NPFL, Nigeria National League, Nigeria Women Football League, and the Nigeria Nationwide League for next season’s football campaign, due to challenges that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, the Federation is at the moment expecting a total sum of $1 million from world football-governing body, FIFA, and another $500,000 from the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
“We would take from these various monies and add also from monies that we are expecting from our corporate partners and see what we can give to each of the clubs in these four cadres.
“This financial support is for them to get their campaigns off the ground for the new season that we have set for September/October, depending on what signals we get from the Federal Government, through the Presidential Task Force on the COVID-19 and other relevant organs. We are also going to support the league organising bodies financially,” Pinnick stated.
Although he said that the football body has written to the Federal government to also support the cause, he admitted that the government was presently burdened with so many challenges wrought by COVID-19.
Getting The Girls Ready
The NFF president, however, gave an assurance that the NFF would prioritise for now, the qualification of the U-17 and U-20 women national teams for their various FIFA World Cup competitions, as well as getting top grade friendly matches for the Super Eagles and the Super Falcons.
He said, “CAF has written to inform us that the qualifiers for the U-17 and U-20 FIFA Women World Cups will hold in September and October. We are determined to prepare our girls well to qualify for both championships.
“At the same time, we are working assiduously to see that the Super Eagles and Super Falcons get quality opponents for friendly matches within the next few months. For the Super Eagles, we have an African team and a South American team on the cards.
“First and foremost, we have to get the Super Falcons a Head Coach of the highest quality possible. We are working on that, as our consultants are already on it, and working on the appointment of coaches for some other national teams. On our part, we have ringfenced a sum of money to pay the Head Coach of the Super Falcons for a number of years to come, so that challenge is taken care of.”
Nigeria Will Not Beg
On the issue of continuous trailing of players of dual nationality with a view to getting them to represent Nigeria, Pinnick stated clearly that only players with the keen interest and resolve would be encouraged, as Nigeria would not beg any player to represent her.
He said, “It is about ardour and fervour. If a player has decided for Nigeria and only want to be assured that he would be much welcome, we will come in and provide that assurance.”
On grassroots football development, Pinnick said this year’s NFF/Zenith Bank Future Eagles Championship, which was already at the zonal stage before the disruption occasioned by COVID-19, would have to start all over again.
“We have no choice. It is a programme so close to our hearts, knowing that it serves the important purpose of providing true youngsters for the National Teams. The pandemic has disrupted and certainly, some of the players would no longer be of the age that they were before the disruption. So, we have to start all over again.”
On a final note, the NFF President appealed to the media and other stakeholders of the game to shun the allure of negative sensation, with some misguided and mischievous members of the football family always bandying around fictititous and outlandish figures as having been misappropriated by the football body.
“I keep saying that you may not like Amaju Pinnick, but the bigger picture is Nigerian Football and its future. Negative stories about the game have damaging impact on the brand and even when Pinnick leaves, the problem of damaged brand will still be there.
“Those of us at the helm of the NFF presently are there because we have the passion to develop the game, do things differently and take the Nigeria game to new heights. We came into office and brought gilt –edged corporations like PriceWaterHouseCoopers and Financial Derivatives Company on board because we are totally committed to transparency and accountability. There are legitimate claims that we forgo simply because we did not come into the Federation for the money. I appeal to everyone to consider the interests of Nigeria football and continue to shun the purveyors of half-truths and outright fiction.”
The League Management Company have urged followers and fans of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) to disregard fake news that suggested that the suspended 2019/20 season would be concluded in China.
The report claimed that Chairman of League Management Company (LMC), Shehu Dikko disclosed the decision to a Lagos-based Radio Station.
But Dikko said he could not have said so after a recent online meeting of the LMC and Chairmen of the 20 NPFL Clubs which agreed on possible options to conclude the season.
“Why would I suggest that we will conclude the season in China with all the logistics nightmare and attendant cost this would entail”, began Dikko in reaction to the story and declared, ” this is an absurd attempt at fake news”.
The issue of making a decision on the suspended league has been a major discussion after the May 5th deadline that the Confederation of African Football gave to its affiliate members to present their plans of finalizing the current 2019/2020 season.
According to CAF, the action plan will enable them to establish an organisation plan for the inter clubs competitions.
In an interview with Channels Sports, Chairman of Abia Warriors, Emeka Inyama is of the opinion that continuing or ending the league is entirely up to the federal government of Nigeria.
”The clubs, LMC and NFF will need to get to an understanding and make a decision. We will be happy to associate with what will make the league popular and end well.
“Many have called for cancellation so the NFF and LMC can rebuild. Some want it to end, others want teams to be quarantined, play at a neutral venue, and decide the league.
”All sorts of options. Others asked for a toss of a coin, declare no champion but allow Plateau United to play continental football. It is not as easy as said, it requires deep thinking. Again, it is up to the government,” he stated.
On CAF’s deadline to clubs on finalising the league, Mr Inyama believes the governing body will understand if there is a delay because Covid-19 is a worldwide problem.
In Nigeria for instance, we have eased the lockdown. I can tell you there’s certainly going to be a spike in the figures in the next one or two weeks and that will put pressure on the government and the people.
These are the issues that must be considered, not selfish interest or favoritism. No matter what happens, football should be the winner and sports generally.
”On a final note, CAF is not saying today is the deadline to submit, they are saying tell us your plans on how you want to end the league. Covid-19 is not over, it is a global pandemic.
“CAF is not alien to what is happening in Madagascar, Kenya, and Ghana so we cannot be forced to do something. You must be alive to play football. Without life, there is no football”.
LMC Chairman, Shehu Dikko corroborates same views, ”the decision reached at the meeting with Club Owners still stand and “we will continue to liaise with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the Sports Ministry and relevant government agencies working on the COVID 19 pandemic for advice on when it is safe for football to return”.
It added: “In suspending remaining league matches, the League Management Company (LMC) said it would review the decision after consulting the nation’s health authorities, namely, the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).”
Matchday 25 games were concluded on Wednesday before the suspension.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had earlier suspended all football activities in the country for four week due to the outbreak of the disease.
In another NPFL fixture this week, Adamawa United will continue their quest for survival in Nigeria’s elite league when they travel to Enugu to face Rangers Victory over the Antelopes will see them leave the foot of the table provided other results go their way this weekend.
After seeing their unbeaten run end in Lafia against Nasarawa United, two-time African champions Enyimba battle title-chasing Katsina United in Aba.
Rabiu Ali will lead Kano Pillars to battle against Akwa Starlets after they were condemned to a defeat in the hands of Stanley Eguma’s Rivers United in their last game.
On the other hand, Rivers United and Heartland FC go head-to-head at the Okigwe Township Stadium, as Eguma’s men hope to maintain the second spot on the league table.
NPFL Matchday 22 Fixtures 2020
Kwara United F.C vs Lobi Stars F.C
Plateau United vs Jigawa Golden Stars
Heartland F.C vs Rivers United
Kano Pillars F.C vs Dakkada F.C
Rangers Intl vs Adamawa United
FC Ifeanyi Ubah vs MFM F.C
Abia Warriors vs Akwa United
Warri Wolves FC vs Sunshine Stars F.C
Wikki Tourist F.C. vs Nasarawa United F.C
The match between Enyimba and Katsina United has been moved due to their CAF Confederations Cup game against Horoya FC.
Mountain of Fire & Miracles Ministries (MFM) Football Club of Lagos and Plateau United produced the major talking points of the opening day of the 2019/2020 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season.
The team, formerly managed by Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu, travelled to Okigwe to deliver a strong message of intent on their aspiration this season as they stunned Heartland FC 0-1 to record the first away victory of the season.
On August 5, 2019, Coach Ilechukwu was officially unveiled as the new coach of Heartland FC after spending 13 progressive years at MFM FC. It was arguably the pragmatic coach who stabilised the team when they gained promotion to the NPFL in 2016 and when some of the boys he tutored visited Okigwe, they showed him some of the skills he taught them.
It was actually Clement Ogwu, a player signed by coach Ilechukwu last season from an unknown Glorious Day Academy that headed home the game’s only goal in the 39th minute from a corner kick by right back Adeyinka Najeem.
After the match, MFM FC head coach, Tony Bolus was full of praise for his team. “I need to appreciate the boys for their effort today, for keeping and playing to instructions. They maintained the tempo of the game from the beginning until the end.”
If Ogwu had scored that goal last season, Ilechukwu, also referred to as the “Working One” would have given the fans his trademark energetic celebration, lifting his hands to the heavens and punching the ground. But there was nothing to celebrate on matchday one with his new team and he will be hoping for a turnaround on matchday 2 when the Naze Millionaires go against Rivers United at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt.
At the New Jos Stadium, Plateau United cruised to a comfortable 3-1 victory over Lobi Stars to put behind the disappointment of last season’s opening day clash with Ifeanyi Ubah.
The stadium had a fairly good number of spectators which include a former governor, Jonah Jang cheering the team all the way. Nerot Silas didn’t take long to reward the fans loyalty as he scored the opener in the 12th minute. In the 27th minute, an own-goal by Solomon Kwambe doubled the lead for the hosts.
But Lobi Stars will not go down without a fight. They kept pushing and in the 32nd minute, they were awarded a penalty. Sikiru Alimi stepped up to it and converted to keep hopes alive. But the hopes were dashed when winger, Amo Gyang Danladi finished a fine move to seal victory and also shoot the 2017 league champions to the top of the league table after matchday one.
After the match, Coach Abdul Maikaba said the victory is a good relief from what happened on the opening day of last season.
“Last season, we struggled and it started with the first match with Ifeanyi Ubah FC. We drew here and it caused a lot of confusion and put a lot of pressure on the team. Before we recovered in an abridged league, it became so difficult. We escaped relegation by a whisker and so, this time around, starting with another home game, we had to start well. We told the boys not to repeat last season’s error and to get a win that will put us on top of the league table,” a happy Maikaba said.
In Kano, former league champions Kano Pillars felt the absence of their home fans as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Rivers United at the Sani Abacha Stadium. The game was played behind closed doors because of a ban placed on Pillars due to unacceptable fans behaviour during the Super Six tournament in Lagos last season.
In Gombe, Wikki Tourists of Bauchi were the only team that produced a comeback victory on matchday one. They defeated newly promoted Jigawa Golden Stars 2-1 at their adopted home ground.
15 minutes into the match, Lala Abdullahi gave Jigawa a shock lead at the Pantami Stadium but two second-half goals from Saidu Abubakar and captain Mohammed Idris Guda gave coach Ibrahim Garba’s team the maximum points.
At the Umuahia Township Stadium, Abia Warriors also got off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory over Katsina United. Former Heartland FC player, Jimoh Oni’s brace did all the magic.
Oni’s first goal came as early the 8th minute, when he drilled a free-kick from 20 yards beyond Mustapha Aliko and followed up two minutes into the second half with another goal assisted by Phillip Auta.
Emmanuel Deutsche’s team will hope to sustain the momentum when they clash with Akwa United on matchday 2 of the league at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo.
In Nnewi, FC Ifeanyiubah edged newly promoted Adamawa United 1-0 courtesy of a superb strike by Samuel Kalu minutes to the end of the first half. It would have been more for the Anambra Warriors but Striker Chibuike Ezeh failed to convert a second-half penalty which could have widened the scoreline for the Anambra Warriors.
Matchday one also witnessed a double-header clash between Delta and Akwa-Ibom states. Delta Force hosted NPFL debutants, formerly Akwa Starlets, now Dakkada FC in Asaba while Warri Wolves hosted Akwa United at the Warri Township Stadium.
In both games, the teams shared the spoils.
In Warri, Samuel Amadi scored the fastest goal of the new season when his strike gave Wolves the lead with just two minutes into the match. Captain of the Promise Keepers, Mfon Udoh continued from where he left off last season to restore parity for John Obuh’s team.
At the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Isaac George scored in the 50th minute to give Dakkada FC the lead but the experienced Bala Yahuza rescued a point for the home side.
Enyimba vs Nasarawa United and Rangers vs Sunshine Stars were rescheduled due to Enyimba and Rangers’ CAF Confederation Cup engagements on Sunday.
2019/2020 NPFL Matchday 1 Results
Heartland 0-1 MFM FC Plateau United 3-1 Lobi Stars Kano Pillars 0-0 River United Wikki Tourists 2-1 Jigawa Golden Stars Abia Warriors 2-0 Katsina United FC Ifeanyiubah 1-0 Adamawa United Warri Wolves 1-1 Akwa United Delta Force 1-1 Akwa Starlets
The League Management Company (LMC) has announced November 3, 2019 as the kick-off date for the 2019/20 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
This followed a consultative meeting between the LMC and leaders of the 20 participating clubs in Abuja on Monday, October 14.
At the meeting, the Chairman of the LMC, Shehu Dikko presented a comprehensive brief to the clubs’ officials on the current situations in the league, especially, the commercial activities and more robust business plans that are being pursued to resolve the recent challenges faced by the league.
The LMC had proposed two start date options of October 20 or October 27, 2019 to the clubs. However, after deliberations, the November 3 date was agreed.
Part of the resolution at the meeting was an expression of appreciation to the Honourable Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare for his bold support to the NPFL and commitment to the resolution of the challenges facing the league.
The Clubs’ administrators also expressed solidarity with the LMC and stated their preparedness to contribute towards successful delivery of the business plan presented by the LMC.
The clubs in applauding the LMC leadership and Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), noted the positive effort and actual work that are being put in place to strengthen organised football in Nigeria amidst avoidable challenges and distractions.
The meeting also witnessed the drawing of fixtures for the 2019/2020 that also has May 31, 2020 as the last match day.