By Chima Ebube
The Nigerian Professional Football League also widely known as NPFL, was postponed indefinitely by the League Management Company (LMC) mainly due to the power tussle in the country’s football governing body NFF.
The NPFL went on mid season break during the period 2018 World Cup was on which to some notable pundits was un called for, following the short calendar tge NPFL is running on, then came this news of indefinite suspension which brought about mixed reaction from the fans of NPFL in general but is it really wise suspending the NPFL at this time?
In a statement released by the League Management company late last month, they cited the power tussle in the glass house as a major catalyst that ensured the league was suspended.
“The decision is based on the current adverse circumstances in the administration of football in the country as a result of which sponsors, partners and service providers have expressed strong concerns and are reviewing their involvement in the league”. The decision might have looked logical as at then but on the long run it would have devastating effect on our football.
The country’s representatives in the continent have all crashed out except Enyimba Football club. Prior to the return leg fixture against Williamsville Athletic Club of Ivory Cost, Enyimba had not played competitively in weeks and this showed in their performance in Cote d’ Ivoire as they put up a lack luster display away from home. It was obvious from that game that the World Cup break had a toll on the team’s performance, imagine what this recent suspension of the league would have on their continental quest.
Lack of competitive fixture might hurt our country’s sole representative in the continent, yes, they are constantly training and have been playing some friendly games here and there but there’s little a friendly game can do for you.
A Friendly game is way different to competitive games, a coach cannot really assess his players based on their performance in a friendly game, the suspension of the league would no doubt affect Enyimba and their quest for continental triumph.
Football being the number 1 sport in the country, its reasonable people would be craving for footballing activity after the conclusion of FIFA World Cup, people would need something to keep them occupied till European season kicks off, but does in the helm of affair of Nigerian League failed to factor this before making decision on the league.
Few years back, the NPFL saw drastic improvement from fans, both stadium attendance wise and on social media this was because the LMC was able to take advantage of European League off season to promote our league.
NPFL clubs and players were topics for discussion in various media outlet in the Country then and its only logical for LMC to continue the pattern, giving the fans something to cheer about; something fresh to keep their minds off NFF crisis but somehow they managed to allow the crisis come in between the league and fans of Nigerian Football.
The quality of footballers in NPFL has always been questioned, little wonder coach Grenot Rohr only deemed Ikechukwu Ezenwa as the local based player who made the squad to Russia. Further questions were asked on why the league’s leading goal scorer and Kano Pillars forward, Junior Lokosa couldn’t make the team. For someone who has scored 18 goals in 20 matches and is on course to break the record of Mfon Udoh’s 24 in a season, such a player’s quality should not be in doubt but recent event has revealed perhaps our League quality is in doubt.
From January till date, the NPFL leading goal scorer has gone on trial in low profile European teams, still, none could sign him while his counterpart in the South African PSL, Percy Tau, got signed by English side Brighton and Hove Albion despite scoring fewer goals than Lokosa.
This shows the dwindling status and quality Nigerian league portrays to the outside world. The LMC should be more concerned on repairing our image to the outside world than focusing on the Crisis of NFF. This single decision portrays an unorganized league to the outside World giving scouts an excuse not to value our local based players.
The LMC should be working with clubs chairmen for NPFL players to be well paid for players to stop embarrassing themselves going on trials for mediocre teams in Europe all in the pretence of playing overseas.
LMC is an independent body saddled with the responsibility of running NPFL, which should be their primary duty and not get involved in the politics of the country’s football governing body.
The suspension of the league has more harm than good if looked at objectively, for the sake of our football and every fans out there it would be best if the LMC lifts the suspension on the league with immediate alacrity and give the fans something to cheer for