The majority of clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League have thrown their weight behind ending the presently suspended 2019/20 league season rather than resuming to complete it at a later date.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, several football leagues across the world were suspended. But while a couple of them have gradually resumed under strict health conditions, the signs for a possible resumption are not yet looking encouraging in Nigeria.
With the rising cases of COVID-18 recorded, the chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Boss Mustapha, recently ruled out the return of any sports-related activities in the country, especially football for now.
This development saw club chairmen in the NPFL meeting at the weekend, when they voted on how best the logjam in concluding the league could be resolved.
Though the deliberations and resolutions from Sunday’s meeting were meant for internal purposes pending the ratification by the Nigeria Football Federation, the outcome has since been leaked to the media.
In all, 17 clubs voted to end the league while the Points Per Game system will be adopted in choosing Nigeria’s representatives to the CAF club competitions for next season.
According to the breakdown obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, the 17 clubs that voted for the season to end are: Kwara United, Kano Pillars, Katsina United, Jigawa Golden Stars and Adamawa United.
The others include Wikki Tourists, MFM, Sunshine Stars Enyimba, Warri Wolves and Abia Warriors. Others are Nasarawa United, FC IfenayiUbah, Dakada, Heartland, Rivers United and Plateau United.
Enugu Rangers, however, voted to go for super six playoffs in which the top three clubs will go for CAF competitions, while two clubs Akwa United and Lobi Stars abstained from voting.
With the adopted PPG system by the majority of the teams, Plateau United, Enyimba, Rivers United and Kano Pillars will be the four clubs to represent Nigeria in the 2020/2021 CAF competitions following the voting by the 17 Chairmen of the (NPFL) clubs.
Lobi Stars kick
Presently occupying the third spot on the NPFL log with 43 points from 25 games, Lobi Stars will drop out from continental spot once the PPG system is approved as they have played five more games than Enyimba who though are in fifth place have a better point per game ratio.
Austin Tyowua, Lobi Stars Media Officer on behalf of the management of the club criticised the voting exercise, claiming it was all orchestrated to favour one club (Enyimba) who will jump to the second spot once the PPG is adopted.
He said: “The whole idea of The PPG argument is premised on the singular reason that there is inequality in the number of games by Enyimba who have accumulated 5 outstanding games for no fault of any of the 19 other NPFL Clubs in the name of playing in the continent. It’s quite laughable that 4 of the games are first-round games thereby violating the league standard that state inter-alia that, after the first round, there shall be a second round. It was expected that first-round matches were not to be carried over to second round if there was no bad motive ab-initio.”
The Lobi Stars spokesperson added: “The first and natural option which would have been to freeze the league table as it is, and send the three top-ranking teams Plateau United, Rivers United and Lobi Stars respectively to the continent was completely omitted.”
The association of club owners have since responded to the claims of Lobi Stars; labelling the Makurdi-based team as selfish and their utterances made in bad taste.
“Lobi Stars, by pointing accusing fingers to its fellow clubs like Rivers United FC, Enyimba FC and others have demonstrated and displayed the highest level of ungratefulness to those clubs who two seasons ago, sacrificed their position based on prevailing circumstances and the interest of oneness agreed that the club be allowed to fly the country’s flag at the CAF Champions League” Alloy Chukuwemeka said in another statement released Monday.
It is expected the Minister for Youth and Sports Sunday Dare and the NFF leadership will make the final decision of what becomes of the league in the coming days.