After 19 rounds of matches in the Nigeria professional football league, 2017 season, the league goes on a break to give the 20 teams in the league a much-needed rest.
However, it is important to examine the successes and the failures recorded in the first half of the season by the League Management Company. As there were positives in the league so also were the downsides. First, we look at the positives then subsequent articles from cheapgoals.com will cover the negatives and possible solutions.
Once the sponsors are secured, they will all partner with the league under the NPFL brand, this is expected to increase the value and price money to be shared between the 20 teams.
The LMC at the beginning of the season decided to do away with the solitary sponsorship of the league thus ending the long time sponsorship of Globacom for the league and as such looking at having various sponsors for the league just like the EPL has done this season. Originally, Star larger has been unveiled as the official beer of the league while some other companies are being negotiated with.
Privatisation of Clubs
The most important progress by the LMC in the development of the league is listing of some NPFL clubs on the Nigeria Stock Exchange in order to privatise and professionalise the activities of the club sides.
The nine clubs that had got the nod of League Management Company (LMC) are Rangers, Enyimba, Kano Pillars, Gombe United, MFM, Abia Warriors, 3SC, Wikki Tourists and El Kanemi Warriors with other clubs in view for the future.
Efforts are in progress to get investors acquire the clubs with some issuing houses like Finmal Financial Services Limited, Cowrie Assets Management Limited, Fundvine Capital & Securities, GTI Capital, Afrinvest Securities, Bestworth Assets & Trust Limited and Capital Assets Limited all assigned to the club sides.
NPFL/La Liga partnership yielding fruits with Youth Teams competitions.
The grandest of all the achievements made by the LMC so far this season, having secured a partnership with La Liga last season, the LMC has mandated that all 20 teams in the league must have a U15 team with a relatively young coach for the team, and as such created an “NPFL U15 promises” tournament (which is underway in four venues of Abuja, Kaduna, Osogbo and Owerri ) involving all 20 NPFL youth teams with players under the age of 15 to kick-start a youth league which would be held annually.
It wasn’t only the clubs and young talents that gained, also aspiring young coaches who are coaches of the NPFL club sides youth teams benefited from this program as they held a coaching course in Abuja before the start of the youth tournament with Mutiu Adepoju and some Spanish Technical instructors taking them through some coaching classes.
Also, a select youth team of young players from the NPFL teams earlier in March participated in a Future champions competition held in South Africa where the NPFL all-stars finished second having lost to Athletico Madrid 2-1 in the final. These developments will surely rub off on the National teams and league in the nearest future as stars are talents are being unearthed frequently with these tournaments.
Gone are the days when the league went on without good coverage and stadium virtually empty due to safety reasons and a home winning syndrome which made matches predictable and un-entertaining to watch.
In recent years match venues like the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano, Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu, Lekan Salami Stadium Ibadan, Agege Stadium in Lagos, Ifeanyi Ubah Stadium in Anambra, Ilorin Stadium amongst others have seen their stands filled to capacities as fans have started returning to the various stadia to support their local teams.
Also, the promoted teams are not left out with Remo stars and ABS of Ilorin commanding a respectable number of supporters on match days. This can only get better with improved security, good officiating and publicity.
NPFL has seen it’s publicity preached on local Radio, TV stations and also on social media this season but now the league is going global, first came the live streaming of matches which commenced with a test stream in February on “urlivestream.com” with matches between Kano pillars and Abs including Enugu Rangers and Fc Ifeanyi Ubah streamed live on the Web, the first in the history of the NPFL. The streaming is expected to be available for all matches by the start of next season.
Similarly, the Sheu Dikko led LMC has made plans to make NPFL to be aired in the UK starting from next season, through AIT and also with the aim to look for partners in the United States and the Far East for live coverage of the league.
The efforts of the NPFL players in the publicity of the league to the outside world cannot be understated as well. Sikiru Olatunbosun’s world class goal in the NPFL match day 8 fixture between MFM Fc and Rangers garnered world attention thus winning the CNN goal of the week beating Roma’s Naingollan to the award.
Afterwards, Olatunbosun’s strike was also widely touted as worthy of the Puskas Award and mentions of it were published in Spanish, Brazilian, French, Italian, and British newspapers. His effort surely also brought the league to the attention of foreign fans.
Teams Making better Arrangements and also supporting made in Nigeria products.
So far so food, there hasn’t been a case of a team not turning up at match centres due to transportation problems or lack of funds despite having to play twice in seven days, before one would debunk this as an achievement, let’s quickly recall in 2015 that Kano pillars were attacked by armed robbers on their way to Owerri to honour a league match against Heartland. However, such incidents have reduced with teams taking plane flights to their various match venues as opposed to road trips except when their next match would be in a neighbouring state.
More importantly, teams are now well kitted as the top two kit makers in the country are responsible for the jersey of 80% of the teams in the league, the major kit makers being CONE sportswear, OWU kit makers and HAGGAI wears.
Unlike in the past where team players wear different kits of the same colour to prosecute matches or even by a bundle of Adidas or Nike made shirts and make players wash and wear these kits, they now sign contracts with these kit makers to provide and also dress them professionally in colourful and well-branded jerseys.
You can’t but appreciate the beauty of MFM FC home and away jersey or the coolness of Rivers united away regalia, Enyimba’s all white kit is a must love for those who prefer white, therefore it’s not a surprise to see people donning the kits of the teams in our leagues. Slowly but surely our league is moving forward.
Having said all these, there have been some negatives that need to be worked upon by the LMC, this negatives will be examined later on in the 2nd part of this article, however this can’t stop us from appreciating the efforts of the Sheu Dikko led LMC in developing the league which are clearly evident to all, let’s also play our parts by visiting and filling the closest NPFL match venue and stadium close to us.
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