The chances of the Yenagoa-based, Bayelsa United Football team to return to the elite premier league next season now hang in the balance following boycott of matches by the players.
The players, who have embarked on weeklong protest over unpaid sign-off fees and allowances, will not honour a Division one game against Gateway FC in Abeokuta on Wednesday.
They had last weekend boycotted the State FA cup final against city rivals, Ocean Boys of Brass.
Speaking on the development in the team’s camp, goalkeeper of the team, Niyi Fabiyi who also plays for the Beninois national team decried the situation in the camp with poor motivation of the players, who were determined to return the club to the premier league.
“We are here at the Government House to protest the inhuman treatment given to us. For almost four seasons, they have not paid sign-off fees and we are being owed over 52 match bonuses.
“The management has not helped our matter at all,” Fabiyi said.
“Now, it is not certain we can make it back to the Premier league. We just decided that enough was enough and we will demand for our rights and entitlements. We call on the management of the League to look into our matter,” he said.
The player recounted that the team had lost two players and their team manager in this struggle for improved welfare package.
“Many of my colleagues who joined the team recently had to sell their cars to enable them feed their families. It is pathetic in the camp of the Bayelsa United. As I speak to you, we have no bus to transport us around and for training. No kits and we now fend for ourselves. But we were all determined to ensure the promotion of the club to the main league. I am more affected because my coach in Benin Republic has vowed not to invite me as long as I play in lower division but we want to see the team back in good standing. But the welfare package is not there to encourage us,” Fabiyi stated.
But the representatives of the players had been assured by the Deputy Governor, Chief Werinipre Seibarugu, of government intention to clear the outstanding arrears.
The Deputy Governor had met with coach George Ederekumo and other players led by captain, Ebiki Timitimi on Monday afternoon as the man supervising activities of the Sports Ministry.
He was said to have asked them to go ahead and play Wednesday’s away league match in Abeokuta with the assurance that their matter would be treated with dispatch.
According to the Deputy Governor, he was not aware of the outstanding sign-off fees, match bonuses and unhealthy situation in the camp of Bayelsa United.
The meeting in the Deputy Governor’s office lasted several hours while other players were waiting by the Government House gate.