Even before world football governing body, FIFA make a decision whether to ban Nigeria on the leadership tussle at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the game is already suffering in the country following the suspension of the domestic league by the League Management Company (LMC).
The LMC may have taken the decision as it would have been difficult if not impossible for a board that provided no logistics or secure sponsorship for the league to continue to run the league.
Most of the clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) had crisscrossed the country in preparation for the second round of matches only to be informed that the league has been put on hold indefinitely.
Their seemed to be a sort of confusion as the management of the concerned clubs are unsure whether to grant their players holiday or continue to keep them together waiting in anticipation when the impasse would be resolved and the league restarted.
The latest development is no doubt a bad omen for our league as Nigeria’s flag bearer in CAF Confederations Cup, Enyimba will lack match fitness ahead of their continental matches. The Peoples Elephants laboured to a 1-0 win courtesy of a strike by Mustapha Ibrahim in their last home match against Williamsville. Had the league not been suspended indefinitely, perhaps Enyimba would have defeated their opponent with a better score line.
Despite topping their group with six points from three matches, Enyimba will have an onerous task to make it out of the group due to the suspension of the domestic league.
Also, many of our home-based players who are hoping to secure their transfer to Europe and Asia may have such dream truncated as scouts of foreign clubs are not likely to splash their money and time on inactive footballers. Added to this is the fact that the domestic clubs will have their budgets for the season stretched to cater for the extended break. Interestingly, some of those clubs are owing their players and coaching staff backlog of salary, allowances and bonuses before the suspension of the league.
Similarly, if the situation continue like this, it would be difficult for Nigeria to put up a formidable squad to ensure qualification for the next CHAN competition. Failure to qualify for the tournament will be highly retrogressive to the development of many of our players who are looking to exploit such avenue to secure juicy contracts in Europe and North African countries. The likes of Chisom Chikatara, Ejike Uzoenyi, Orji Kalu and Stephen Eze were able to secure contracts abroad due to their exploits at the CHAN tournament which is restricted to only home-based players.
With the European major leagues yet to resume, a time last this would have been apt to improve the turnout of spectators at our domestic league match venue but for the suspension. The money being spent at viewing centres to watch European league matches would have been diverted by individuals to watching our league matches thereby improving revenue of those clubs.
If the suspension drags for too long, automatically we would have ‘killed’ our domestic league as the present sponsors are likely to pull out of their deals with the LMC just as no one will be interested in putting down multiple digits as title sponsors of the NPFL in the future. For some years, it was difficult for the NFF to secure sponsorship for the league until this current administration led by Amaju Marvin Pinnick, came on board.
Football has become part of us in this country, in fact I can say it is a ‘religion’ to many Nigerians hence we cannot allow any individual or persons to run it aground. It was cheering to see football stakeholders come together by easing Ambassador Chris Giwa out of the office on Monday.
Giwa should wait for another three months when the tenure of the present administration at the NFF should have been over to realise his ambition of becoming substantive President.
There are lots of promising footballers in every corner you turn and the dream of such Nigerians should not be allowed to die just because of the interest of an individual.