It would be recalled that the Nigerian Premier League (NPL) was a couple of days ago rated as the 2012 strongest African football league by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics. The NPL was also ranked as the 24th best league in the world by the same body.
The NPL ranking as best in Africa drew mixed reactions from football lovers in Nigeria
But MTN football on Wednesday outlined 10 reasons why the NPL should not be rated Africa’s best.
The reasons given by MTNfootball are stated below:
1. Players play on empty stomachs
The players play under very difficult conditions, from irregular payment of monthly salaries to sign-on fees being unpaid for several years.
Philip Auta famously lamented the players played with empty stomachs when Enyimba won their sixth NPL crown two years ago.
This season, the clubs, from champions Dolphin to Niger Tornadoes, have gone on strike to press for the payment of their various monies.
Medical care and insurance cover are almost non-existent for the players in the NPL.
2. Please, where are the fans?
Most NPL matches are played in virtually empty stadiums with only the likes of Kano Pillars and Enyimba attracting big attendances.
The fans have deserted the arenas for fear of their safety and the standard of the football on offer.
3. Where is the credibility?
The clubs still complain about biased officiating and harassment by rival fans so much so that most fans do not believe in the integrity of the competition.
This season, like previous seasons, several clubs have been sanctioned for crowd trouble by being directed to play behind closed doors or banished to neutral venues.
5. Squabbles and more squabbles
Since the exit of long-serving chairman Oyuki Obaseki, there has been a lingering tussle for the leadership of the Nigeria Premier League. Davidson Owumi has been deposed, while Victor Baribote’s appointment is still contested by Akin Akinbobola.
Baribote’s leadership style has also stirred controversies and the wrong headlines.
6. Show us the money
The NPL is strapped of cash as they are yet to decide on a title sponsor for the second straight season.
The clubs are also complaining that they are yet to receive a kobo from the sale of television rights for the competition for the past six years.
The prize money for the NPL champions is five million Naira or $31,000…
7. Clubs remain government properties
Government has proved to be a bad manager of businesses, from NITEL to NEPA, and so it has been with the football clubs.
All but ABS FC of Ilorin are owned by state governments, meaning the clubs are poorly run and are under pressure to source for funds outside the easy cash they receive from their various state governments.
8. Enyimba have failed
Enyimba raised the bar when they won the CAF Champions League back to back in 2003 and 2004.
Sadly though, they have failed to improve on this in the form of owning a befitting club house and a sporting complex that would have challenged other clubs to do so going forward.
9. The NPL not hot news
The local media have virtually blacked out the NPL, while at the same time hyping on the English Premier League and other European leagues.
Nigerian football fans are first Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United fans before they are fans of Pillars or Enyimba.
10. Are there stars here?
Partly due to the poor media coverage of the league and the lure to play overseas, the NPL can hardly boast of genuine stars.
Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has since last year given players in the NPL some sense of belonging in his team and they are now starters and not “training materials” for the national team.
But even some of these NPL players discovered by Keshi like Gabriel Reuben and Godfrey Oboabona are now on their way to greener pastures this summer.