Opinion: The burden of running a professional football league in Nigeria

by Chidi Arua

Nigerian premier leagueBoth the clubs and the LMC have roles to play inorder to make our league great. We shouldn’t blame the clubs for the role the LMC has refused to play. Likewise, the LMC shouldn’t be blamed if the clubs have refused to do what they should.

My attention was drawn to an article published on GOAL website, titled ‘Stop the Blame Game, LMC Creativity Would Bring Fans to NPFL Games,’ written by a certain Prof. Patrick Omo-Sagie.

In his piece, Prof. Omo-Sagie, tried to highlight LMC’s lack of creativity by blaming them for the misfortunes befalling the league, and indeed, the clubs. This piece is meant to correct the Professor’s faulty assertions. Though, I can’t say he is 100% wrong. So, I’ll address the areas he got it wrong.

The Professor rightly said that Kano Pillars records an average of 25,000 fans per home game but wrongly blamed the LMC for the low attendances in other league venues. One wonders if the league body should be tasked with the responsibility of publicising the clubs while the club owners are busy doing nothing? The average Nigerian club administrator is not creative. But give him a microphone, he’ll begin to lecture you on the Governor’s ‘Transformation agenda,’ ‘uncommon transformation’ or which ever political slogan they choose to adopt. We now have politicians running football clubs, instead of creative business men, which is detrimental to football development.

I live in Uyo, I’ve never seen a billboard on the street advertising Akwa United, neither have I seen any effective publicity prior to any match. I wonder if the professor wants the LMC to do these things for the clubs? Is it the LMC’s fault that Enugu Rangers’ twitter account hasn’t been active for some time now? How many clubs have active websites? The LMC should do these for them? The popularity of a club rest in their hands and if they can’t do anything about it, LMC can’t either.

He also alleged that the LMC only gave 14% of it’s income to the clubs, hence, he blamed the league body for the clubs’ financial woes. But the LMC, via it’s twitter page denied the claim and also stated that over 68% of it’s income went to the clubs. I believe the LMC, because in the current league setting, even the last placed team goes home with a prize money. This is an unprecedented innovation!

However, the clubs shouldn’t wait to get cash from LMC alone, they should explore other means of making money. The club that comes to my mind at this point is Enyimba. After winning the African title back-to-back, this team became a household name in Nigeria and Africa, but how did they utilise that popularity for financial gains? Your guess is as good as mine! Is it not shameful that a club like Enyimba doesn’t have a befitting club house? How many replica jerseys and mufflers with Enyimba’s logo are in the market? How many sponsors do they have? Shouldn’t the club be making plans to expand the stadium in order to make more money from tickets? Why is the club not financially stable? What has the Chairman been doing all these years? Does the professor expect the LMC to also run the clubs? Is he also aware that the LMC even waived the percentage entitiled to the body each time a team gets a sponsor? I don’t think so!

With all I have said, the LMC still has a huge gap to fill in relation to their responsibility -TV. The LMC should ensure that more games are shown on TV, either live or delayed broadcast like Prof. Omo-Sagie rightly suggested.

While growing up in Uyo, we used to watch a weekly review of the Globacom Premier League on NTA (Glo’s first sponsorship of the league). One had the opportunity to see the highlights of almost all 10 games in a week but as I grew older, and with Glo pulling out of the league, this enjoyment was taken away from me, leaving me with just nostalgia. But the LMC can make it a reality for me again by bringing this innovation back and it should be shown on local TV too (not everyone has acess to Supersport). Let’s have all 10 games on TV and a weekly review of them.

The LMC should also take CHARGE and exercise FULL AUTHORITY over the clubs. We don’t want another ‘unknown player’ to push down a referee (we’re still using drones to track that El-Kanemi player with little success), we don’t want fans to invade the pitch again and we want the impunity with which clubs disregard the rules of the game to be halted. The LMC should also make sure that official statements on incidents that occur during matches should be made at most, 24hours from the time of the incident. We don’t want the waiting game to continue.

In conclusion, both the clubs and the LMC have roles to play inorder to make our league great. We shouldn’t blame the clubs for the role the LMC has refused to play. Likewise, the LMC shouldn’t be blamed if the clubs have refused to do what they should. After all, running a professional league is a huge burden, especially when the clubs are not complying.


Chidi Arua tweets from @ChidiArua

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

One comment

  1. Good exposition.

    I guess we could also play a role

    I have a friend who speaks “3SC” on his PM always; he’s building fame for the club among us his friends.

    I look forward to a day when our football league here will attract folks from across the world.

    If it already does, then what I really look forward to is a Nigerian League that’s just like the EPL

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