Birthed in 1972, but transformed to a professional league on the 12th of May 1990 and being rebranded by the League management company (LMC), from the Nigerian Premier League to the Nigerian Professional Football League(NPFL) in 2012. As is it part of its efforts to avert a total collapse and change the outlook of the highest level of the Nigerian football league system.
Three decades of it establishment, one expects an already rosy going for the Nation’s top division but rather has experienced many dwindling fortunes in recent years. This problem range from sponsorship, remuneration, officiating and television coverage. This makes it imperative on the football-loving fans of the Nation to resort in patronizing the foreign leagues, from the English premier league, to the Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, French ligue-1 among lots of others; which in return have had some economical backdrop on the local league.
In 2015, the League Management Company (LMC) solicited financial support from the Government in order to “upgrade of existing grounds and provision of required broadcast equipment and facilities in the stadiums”. The LMC in its own capacity has been trying to commercialize the league but sponsorship and funding are still far-fetched.
The fact that most of the clubs are own by state government which sometimes being run to promote their political ambitions and also change with change in political atmosphere. This makes the clubs lack in structure and depth.
Development of sports in any part of the world requires good broadcasting rights as this has become an integral part of the sports industry. But rather, the LMC have had some ups and down in securing those rights. In recent years, mainstream broadcasting company has parted ways with the LMC due to breach of contract, imaging rights – among others.
In any business-oriented environment, product packages is very vital, this attracts retailers and consumers to patronize it, but our domestic league hasn’t level up to that. If not for few, the pitch and stadia facilities are not palatable seeing on screen.
The security system controlling spectators needs to be review. This is very evident in the game of Matchday 20 of the current NPFL season between Abia Warriors fans with local rivals Enyimba at the Umuahia Stadium. Mostly, our Federal police outfit who have been trained to handle day-to-day criminal activities are being deployed into the stadia facilities to control crowd instead of specially trained stewards.
Going forward, player’s medicals and insurances need to be critically looked into as they’re currently close to non-existent.
Players’ welfare which includes but not limited to transfers, wages, bonuses and coaches’ remuneration needs to be constantly reviewed to meet global standards. Therefore, good and solid sponsorship rights are required, but for that to happen – the league needs to be repackaged.
But before then, Happy 30th birthday NPFL.
Jamiu Lawal is an undergraduate at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto. A sports enthusiast, writer and analyst.
He can be reached via email@example.comTweets: @sirJLawal