Nigerian Premier League side, Heartland have requested both the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) board and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) board to meet urgently and address their case over the aborted Week 31 league match with Ocean Boys of Yenegoa in a manner that shows openness, justice and fairness in order to save the local league another unnecessary distraction.
Pic: Heartland’s Chibuzor Okonkwo
Media Officer, Cajetan Nkwopara in a press statement issued in Owerri on Thursday, said there was no way Heartland will honour the about-to-be rescheduled Week 31 game if the two bodies do not consider their demand for compensation from the expenses incurred when the match was originally fixed for Abuja.
On the instruction of the league organizers, Heartland were in Abuja between July 4th and 6th, 2011 as guest of Ocean Boys of Yenegoa who had been banished to the Federal Capital Territory by the NPL as punishment after trouble broke out in their last home game against Enyimba International of Aba.
However, less than 12 hours to the kickoff of the game in Abuja, an NFF disciplinary board overturned the banishment of Ocean Boys leaving Heartland marooned and with an incurred head cost which the club put at N1,021,500.00 (about $6,810) Ocean Boys did not travel to Abuja although they had been expected there as hosts.
Heartland are asking the organizers to refund them the expenses plus another N1,000.000.00 (about $6, 666) as compensation for the embarrassment and psychological trauma the postponement caused them as well as the hazard they encountered while on the trip bringing the claim to a total of N2,021,500.00 (about $13, 400).
Nkwopara said although Heartland were not a party in the original matter that went before the NFF disciplinary board, the decision of disciplinary board has left only Heartland as the ‘object victim’ of a matter involving two other clubs since neither Ocean Boys nor Enyimba International incurred expenses as a result of that judgment.
He said Heartland have therefore written the NPL through to the NFF to furnish them with the document were the decision of the board was reached to enable the Owerri-based side to begin their own appeal on the matter.
According to the Heartland spokesman, the club usually get funds from the state government before embarking on any trip and there was no way they can go to the government for another money for the same game they had been given money to prosecute.
He said the NFF only showed interest in refunding the club with N500,000.00 (about $3, 333) out of their total claim of over two million but said this cannot cover for their trip to honour an away match.