The merger of former NPFL sides Sharks FC and Dolphins FC by the Rivers State Government (RSG) was never really a matter of finances it has been revealed.
Former Green Eagles Winger, Chief Adokiye Amiesimaka the man charged with the committee that recommended the merger, in a recent parley with journalists in Port Harcourt said the merger was seen as an opportunity to unite a divided people with football.
In February 2016, it was announced that both sides sponsored by the RSG will cease to exist as individual entities but become known together as Rivers United.
Many were of the opinion that the RSG could no longer cope with the financial burden of running both sides and thus it’s decision to opt for a single club.
Amiesimaka says money was not really an issue but other factors bothering on legality also played a role.
“Could we keep both sides? Yes” he admitted.
“On the premise that government could sponsor, yes we could keep them.
“But it is even against the rules for one sponsor to have two teams in the same competition, because when both teams play what do you get? There may be collusion.”
Elections in Rivers state in 2015 witnessed violence and division within what is a multi-ethnic state.
Amiesimaka reveals that an opportunity presented itself to make it one less reason for division in the state.
“We are thinking of building the state. The mentality however was so called Riverine and so called Upland.
“How can you use Sports to divide your state? Sports is rather used to unite.”
Two teams being sponsored by the same entity set up in a position to do battle which also spilled off the fields is not seen as logical according to the former Chief Justice.
“It really doesn’t make sense no matter what perspective you look at it from, to have two teams sponsored by the same government that are actually at logger heads.
“When one calls itself Riverine, the other says it’s an Upland team then you the same sponsor you give each one money and say “Riverine push” “Upland push” No! That is self defeatist, counter productive.”
Amiesimaka says the decision was always simply academic. Synergy is needed and thus the recommendation for a merger by the committee.
“Since you are the same sponsor we said let us bring our energies together and form the same team and name it Rivers Utd.
“Happily and I commend the governor for it, he accepted it and actualised it.”
Rivers United FC has its motto and slogan as ‘United through Football’.