By Amaechi Agbo
Former Gombe State FA Chairman, Ahmed Shuaibu Gara Gombe has disclosed that the abridged format adopted by the League Management Company for the 2018/19 Nigeria professional Football League, NPFL, is an indication that the league is progressing in disaster.
Gara Gombe who asserted that the league has been bastardised, said that the mere fact that the LMC and the so called club owners agreed for 8 teams to be relegated at the end of the season is a harbinger of bad omen itself.
The two-time Gombe United Chairman who spoke in an exclusive interview, added that the one-month World Cup break the league observed last season which plunged it into the current mess, was done out of selfish purpose to enable the LMC Chairman to be in World Cup.
He therefore wondered why the league should be on break when Russian League in whose soil the World Cup was hosted, were playing their league matches during the World Cup.
“This is going to be the worst season in the Nigeria football league. It is going to be the most controversial and dirtiest league in Nigeria football. They have started beating referees now, it will continue. LMC said they are going to relegate 8 clubs at the end of the season. The number of teams that are going down are directly proportional to the controversy you will be experiencing in the league because every team will like to escape the drop.
“Besides, you are running an abridged league. If it is a straight line league, maybe you can manage the controversy. But in abridged league, by the time you are dealing with a controversy in Warri, another one is coming up in Gombe. Look at what happened in Jos. It will continue. “Don’t think Plateau United case is different, they will continue to banish teams. Referees will be smiling to the banks because when you have money, you will win. Seventy per cent of the teams are not prepared; they don’t have money. It is those clubs that have the money that will remain. Let us wait and see. I can comfortably tell you the teams that are going to come out in Group A and Group B. it is a simple thing. I can also tell those who will make the top six and those that will be demoted.
“Do not forget that after the preliminaries, they will still have to go to Super 6 to determine who wins the league. That is why I said we are not progressing in error, we are progressing in disaster.
“Now we said we want to align our league with that of European leagues, wonderful. Nations Cup is in June; All Africa Games is in August. The league just started, you play on Sunday and then on Wednesday. You can imagine a team that played in Port Harcourt on Sunday you want them to go to Maidugri on Monday then by Saturday you want them to come back and play. Haba! Are they machines? Don’t forget that they are going by road and not by flight. So you should expect more controversy.
“There is going to be a lot of protest because players are going to be misused. Some licences are not properly registered because they were rushed into the league. They banished Plateau to Ilorin and fined them five million; just wait for more reports on attack of officials and the rest. You cannot play a league and say you want to relegate eight teams and you think you are going to manage the controversy. Let us pray that the league will end because very soon they will go on break for elections. The whole of February and maybe early March, we are not going to play the league. Then you have April/May to go for the Nations Cup in June. We don’t plan, we are crazy and lazy.
“When we went on break during the World Cup, the Russian league where the World Cup was hosted was going on. Even Champions League was on. We closed shop simply because the chairman of the league, after he has stolen all the money in the league and the account became empty, he then, as Second Vice Chairman of the NFF, started performing the duty of a team manager. He abandoned the league to go to Russia; all of them, everybody was in Russia; for what?
“The league went on break for personal reasons, nothing else. We did not have any local player in the team that went to the World Cup. Even if we had local players, what was the proportion that would make us to stop our league. They should have stayed and concentrated on the league.
“Then when we came back, after 24 matches, they had a congress and declared a winner citing CAF’s deadline for submission of names of clubs for continental assignments as reason. Is it a must that we should beat CAF deadline? Can’t we write to CAF and tell them that we are not ready? We write to CAF and tell them we are not ready, pay the fine and complete the league.
“But that is strategic. It is all about the money. Let me tell you, we are not developing football in Nigeria we are just producing millionaires. It is political because everybody needs the money. Do you know how much Ortom (Benue State Governor) is paying on Lobi now? Or how much Ugwuanyi (Enugu State Governor) is spending on Rangers? It is all about getting the state governments’ money; it is not a must that Nigeria should play in the CAF leagues.
“A true football administrator should have simply apologised to Nigerians, write to CAF and if there is a fine, you pay the fine and come back and finish your league to decide the winner and teams to be relegated. It is as simple as that,” he concluded.