Side Kick

 Takeover of Delta Force: Bargain or loss?

 

With Adebayo Olodan

The news of Kwara United’s sudden return to the Nigeria Professional
Football League (NPFL) after playing only one match in the Nigeria
National League (NNL) came to many of us as a rude shock.
Most of the headlines from online medium and social media platforms
which read; ‘Kwara United back to NPFL’ got many people confused. Many
domestic league followers were left wondering how a club that has just
started its campaign in the lower division abruptly got promoted to
the elite division.
However, after reading through the various write-ups, it was
discovered that the management of Kwara United had only succeeded in
reaching an agreement with the leadership of Delta Force FC, to buy
the slot of the Delta State-based club in the NPFL which is subject to
ratification and approval by the League Management Company (LMC).
Ever since news of the transfer of ownership of Delta Force to Kwara
United broke out, there have been wide condemnation and adulation in
the media space.
Some residents of the state especially, Ilorin, the Kwara State
capital, celebrated the decision as it will afford them an opportunity
to watch top clubs like Enyimba and Kano Pillars play their darling
team at the Ilorin Township Stadium this term.
Others saluted the courage and wiliness of management of Kwara United
in navigating what they described as a shortcut to the NPFL. Going by
the experience of Shooting Stars, many Kwara United fans averred that
it may take their darling team about five years or a decade to gain
promotion to the NPFL if they had to go through the regular season.
There is also the argument that having top clubs play Kwara United
every other match day in Ilorin will boost socio-economic activities
in Ilorin and its environs.
While I want to agree with all the aforesaid arguments, I however have
some reservations and fear about the action.
There is no doubt that the Kwara State Governor, Mallam Abdulrahman
Abdulrazaq and the management of Kwara Utd led by Mr Clement Kunbi
Titiloye have good intentions for the club and its numerous fans, I
however believed that the takeover announcement was done too early.
The management of the club should have waited to get confirmation and
approval of the LMC on the transfer of ownership before putting
anything (news) in the public.
The LMC in a release admitted that it is currently reviewing the
applications of the two clubs to ensure the minimum relevant rules,
regulations, and procedures for acquisition, change of ownership and
name in the NPFL Framework and Rules are complied with.
Part of the LMC statement reads; “ The review would also evaluate the
validity of the reasons advanced by Delta Force FC in relinquishing
the ownership of the club to ascertain that it serves the overall
interest of the League and to ensure that the rights and privileges of
the players and technical personnel of the clubs are protected.
As it stands and pending the conclusion of this process, Delta Force
FC remains the name on NPFL official fixtures and the Stephen Keshi
Stadium in Asaba remains the registered home ground.”
However, in the case that the LMC fails to grant the approval, what
becomes the fate of the two teams? What becomes of the money United
has reportedly paid to owners of Delta Force? Will Kwara United also
get refund for the substantial money spent by Delta Force to prosecute
their last away match against Nasarawa Utd?
I even learnt that Delta Force players rode in the bus of Kwara United
to Lafia and that they were camped in Kaduna ahead of the match on the
bill of the prospective owner of the slot.
Another issue is whether the current squad of Kwara United can match
the standard in the NPFL as the coaching crew only recruited and
prepared the players for the NNL. Psychologically, I doubt if the
present United squad can mix it with the big boys.
Yes, some people will argue that the team can always sign new players
when the next transfer window opens but the team may have dropped so
many points before then. Also, it is unlikely that the management will
sack the entire squad and sign as many as 20-30 players. Such
development (massive recruitment) may spell doom for the team as the
coaches will have to start altogether in terms of team work and
tactics.
Also, if the transfer of ownership goes through, what becomes the fate
of Delta Force players such as former Super Eagles goalkeeper,
Chigozie Agbim, Michael Okoyoh and Emmanuel Nnamani?
My arguments aside, I believe only the end of the 2019/2020 NPFL
Season, will justify whether the state government and the management
of Kwara Utd has made the right decision in taking over ownership of
Delta Force.

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