By Amaechi Agbo
The reported establishment of a separate league in Nigeria known as Nigeria Professional Investors Football League, NPIFL, has received critical assessment by a private club owner based in Lagos.
Chairman and Proprietor of a Nigeria National League side, 36 Lions FC of Lagos, Alhaji Abdulgafaar Liameed has questioned the intent of the new league wondering whether it is for recreational purposes or a professional football league.
Commenting in an online debate on the proposed league on Monday, Alhaji Liameed said he never for once supported the idea of a private league in Nigeria wondering if the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF would grant license to the NPIFL which would contravene the NPFL and NNL.
Alahaji Liameed noted that breaking away to form a private league by the private club owners because they are not getting their investment’s value is not a good idea.
“I never for one second support the idea of a private league. What I said was that it is an interesting idea and then asked what type of license are the conveyors of this idea seeking from NFF? A recreational or a professional league license? Will NFF give a professional league license that will contravene NPFL and NNL? I don’t think so.
“Breaking away to form a private league because we are not getting our investment’s value is not a good idea. We must also know that FIFA allows only one professional league per country
“Besides most of us private clubs are not fully professional yet so now do we want to leave our semi-professional status and become amateurs? Yes football is a huge business. Making maximum profit should be the end result. But who are the owners of the business or the conductors?
“In Nigeria, it is NFF so we must adhere to NFF’s rules and regulations. You can’t get a certain fry chicken franchise and decided you want to fry your own way because fry chicken is fry chicken.
“For me as a private club owner, competitions with government clubs is my benchmark. I also think Government should stay in football as long as possible. Because for now private clubs cannot afford reasonable salaries for normal professional players in Nigeria.
“Some government clubs pay between 500 thousand to a million naira per month which is still not enough as far as I’m concerned. An average Nigeria professional footballer should earn at least 4 million naira monthly. Can we private clubs pay that right now or anytime soon?
“Majority of us agitate for government’s hands off football yet we triumphantly accept government clubs appointment when called upon. What is that? Hypocrisy? If government hands off football today. Football will die tomorrow.
“Certain group of players like the legend Victor Ezeji will never play outside Nigeria and private clubs will never be able to afford them.
“Now let us look at ourselves here, members of the 4th estate of the rem. How often do we promote private clubs? Yes, 36 Lion gets a whole lot of promotions and publications form this family because you all consider me a good friend and a brother but please let us try and do the same or half awareness for FC Ebedei, J-Atete FC, Real Stars FC and dozens of others. Let us uphold the tenets of genuine journalism as the voice of the voiceless.
“Football is life but the life might be miserable after football if care is not taken.
“The challenge facing Nigeria football is not anyone’s fault. It is a challenge facing Nigeria. The economy has to be balance before football can thrive,” he concluded.