LMC chairman Shehu Dikko says the decision to award the 2017/2018 Nigeria premier league title to Lobi Stars FC, was a unanimous one taken by key stakeholders of the league for the best interest of Nigeria football.
Answering questions on the Nigeria sports mouthpiece NSM, a whatsapp platform that is gradually becoming a contemporary media organisation in Nigeria, the NFF 2nd Vice president appealed to football fans and journalists alike, to put aside their personal or group interests, and support the decision of the LMC and clubs..
“The league was declared concluded for the reasons stated in our public notice and thus Lobi Stars that are on top of the NPFL table are to represent Nigeria at the CAF champions League.
If you look at the History of the league from start to Match Day 24 and check out Lobi stars records and stats you can say they are worth it. About 5 options were provided and debated on and at the end of the day it was unanimously agreed to take the option that was taken for several compelling reasons advanced.
This singular decision has elicited massive media criticism and some serious condemnations from football fans who obviously are not happy that the league had to stop for reasons considered by many as unacceptable.
However, the LMC chairman said, they have considered the best possible way out of this logjam and have decided at the end, to go with the option taken.
“Some of the options were
1. Continue to play the league and at the end of the time CAF authorizes we then stop and whoever is on top will be submitted to CAF and a play off organized for relegation..
2. Play six matches and Stop the league and organize Playoff to determine winners and relegation.
3. Play four games and stop the league and organize playoffs for both relegation and winner but with less teams as per in 2 above..
4. Stop the league at week 24 and either organize a 10 team play off or declare the top team to represent Nigeria and no relegation..
5. Group the teams at neutral venues close by and they play all the outstanding matches every two days until they finished all the matches
Number 4 was accepted but without the play off.
Having agreed to stand by the agreement reached at the recent stakeholders meeting, what then are the plans put in place to ensure that the 2018/2019 NPFL season turns out the best ever played?
” Dikko said This is exactly what has been planned even before the crisis and it’s no more an option as I said but something that has to be done..
Also if you look at the last three seasons NPFL always starts at a given date and ends at the agreed date… so really, it’s something we will achieve..
Already, the draft schedule is being Worked out and sure we will finish by May…
The plan is to do two groups of 12 teams and then do a super league of the top three teams from each groups … which also would be played in a league format. So we hope this format would give us an exciting season to repay the fans and sponsors for the unintended mishap of this season which we sincerely apologize for from both LMC and the Clubs but we have to take the hard decision which we hope we can turn to one huge positive gain for the league and our overall football industry in the long run.
We have been doing so much as you can see over the years but really it’s a case of Chicken and egg…
Which one comes first? I can tell you every club and administrator knows clearly and appreciate what to do to make this happen but issue of Stability of the system and finance are very fundamental..
For instance once a club lose two games at home we would hear all sorts of stories and pressure to the club chairman, coach and even players? This shows that no one wants tl give them time for development and proper organization but just to win games… that is why we introduced the BEYOND THE THREE POINTS program to change this narrative but sincerely we have to carry out an institutional and system reset to achieve this…
On the finance, most clubs run mainly on operations budgets only and not investment funds so they have little to invest towards development and or infrastructure… Here, we are working to go back to the basic to see if we can set up a process that would not just bring in the funds but also protect the industry from the Afront of foreign football and appetite for this foreign leagues by our corporate world… all these are captured in our second program called FOOTBALL MEANS MORE… hopefully all would come together with our new broadcast deal and the right funding streams will be opened for the league to drive proper investment at all levels…
Remember we have already 10 clubs being prepared to be listed at the second stock exchange for private sector to come in and invest…
We are also pushing Govermment at the highest level to see the need to invest in upgrading infrastructure just like it is done at the start of the EPL in 1992 when UK Govt put £200m to provide EPL with right infrastructures to start.
Today, UK Govt is making £3billion in taxes annually from EPL and sustaining 12,000 direct jobs and several hundred thousands indirect jobs… we can achieve this template in Nigeria if we get the right support across board” he concluded.