NPFL is ready to go again, despite whether or not it should


It’s hard to tell whether Raymond Reddington’s story was true, given his current ‘impostor’ state and everything, and the fact he was telling that story to get information from Madeline Pratt, but as he put it, he was coming home to his family for Christmas, and then all he saw was blood.

His pre-planned soon-to-be-hilarious story of how his car had run out of fuel, how he had to walk quite a distance, and how he forgot the presents in his car, didn’t matter anymore. This – again, if the story is to be believed – was now a situation of a man who told his family goodbye, was certain to come back to them, but he came back to horror.

The 2017/18 Nigerian Professional Football League season wasn’t quite as dramatic, and there was certainly not quite as much blood as there’d be in the story in NBC’s The Blacklist, or any, but you could read through some similarities. At the start of last June, the NPFL called halt on its season, 24 weeks in, as a result of the FIFA World Cup, and was certain to return in mid-July. All that’s left was for the league to sit back, watch events in Russia, and return to activity, with stories lying in wait, Lobi Stars and Akwa United were the top two title chasers, while at the other end, Heartland, Sunshine Stars and Ifeanyi Ubah were three of the four teams behind the dotted line that led to relegation.

But then the league did its own mini-Reddington, it ran out of gas. Somehow, Week 24 would prove to be the last of the previous season, and like a television series that didn’t get sufficient viewership, it got cancelled.

The League Management Company explained that CAF needed representatives for its new continental, hence the speed-up, but that season had been tainted; Lobi Stars were crowned champions but it wasn’t quite the same as winning the league, being given the league with 14 games left will surely never be like grafting to winning the league after 38, it was a title, not a triumph, and the Benue team’s champions status would eternally be asterisked. Then there was the choice not to relegated any side, which was probably fair, as no side deserved to be punished for a league’s premature ending, but the same could be said for the top, why be definitive on one end if you can’t be at the other end. This might be as a result of CAF’s demands, but the NPFL seemingly backed itself into a corner.

Little matter, in the end, as every party accepted their fates and moved, and waited for the new season to kick off in November. They waited. November came. They kept waiting. November went. They kept waiting. December came. Still waiting. December left. The NPFL had failed in its timing responsibilities again, thanks in no small part to the Nigerian National League producing more than four promoted teams, and then a Super Eight tournament took place to finally determine the sides that would appear in the top-flight.

And finally, we are ready to go. After seven months, the NPFL is returning. But should it?

The Super Eight and CAF competitions mean that only six of the 12 games will go on, but why not just push the league back another week? As much as the LMC have continued to – quite rightly – irk sets of fans, footballers and media with their continued postponement, perhaps another delay would be better, after all, following seven months away, the league should make a full-blown entrance. But that’s the thing: it’s been seven months. The league has been away for too long, any return would be grasped, even if it’s incomplete.

The show has had too many hiccups for it not to begin perfectly. Yet the show has had too pit-stops for it not to begin at all. Awa game; nothing like it.

About Olakunle Ajao 287 Articles
Olakunle Ajao is a Mass Communication student at the University of Lagos. Commonly known as 'The Major' by friends and fiends alike, he has quite the obsession with football, watching, reading, writing and playing- although he's not very good at that last part.

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