By Colin Udoh

For the second season in a row, the Glo Nigerian Premier League table is the
butt of jokes around the football world.
Kano
Pillars finished as champions while Shooting stars ended up as the bottom side,
and suffering relegation.

Nothing unusual about that. But a look at the numbers from the table is what
leads to some very tasty headlines around the world.

In one particularly brutal description, US site Deadspin.com ran with: ‘Nigeria
Has The Most Absurdly Crooked Soccer League On The Planet’ and describes it as
an exhibition of ‘the most stunning display of home field advantage’.
Bleacher
Report is more charitable, going with a somewhat milder ‘Nigerian League Table
Features Absurd Home, Away Records’.
But
that is as good as it gets. Like Deadspin, 101greatgoals.com spares no punches
‘Shameful! Corruption is clearly rife in Nigeria; Just look at the Premier
League table’.
And
one look is enough to show why.
Teams
just don’t win away. To see an away win is almost an aberration. Now, anybody
who has followed the Nigerian League for any number of years will tell you this
is nothing special.
As
a matter of fact, it is one of the reasons neutrals will tell you is
responsible for their lack of interest in the domestic league.
Champions
Pillars won just 2 games away from home all season. The only side to win more
were Kwara United with 3 road wins, and they got relegated.
Last
season, Pillars won a grand total of ONE game away from home, and that came on
the final day of the season, after they had been confirmed champions.
It
is safe to say that the Nigerian Premier League numbers defy every rule of
statistical standard deviation.
Pillars’
2 wins in 19 away games represents just over 10 percent. And relegated 3SC, who
finished bottom, racked up a remarkable 68% home win percentage with 13 out of
19.
It
doesn’t end there, Pillars finished with a points total of 63 for the season,
while 3SC chalked up 46. So there were just 17 points between top team and
bottom team, a points differential of just 26 percent.
These
numbers will mean little without proper comparison. So to put this into
perspective, we have have selected 8 other leagues to subject to the same
analysis.
There
are two from Africa (Ghana and South Africa), three from Europe (Germany,
England and Holland), one each from South America (Colombia), Asia (Yemen) and
Central America (Trinidad and Tobago).
In
Germany, for instance, Bayern Munich emerged champions, and their 15 wins from
19 road games represented an 88 percent away win percentage.
Bottom
club Greuther Furth were the bottom team. They did not win a single home game,
for a 0 percent. Second from bottom. Fortuna Fusseldorf had a 29 percent home
win record.
Bayern
ended the season on 91 points to Greuther Furth’s 21, bringing the points
differential between both to 77 percent.
These
figures are roughly consistent for almost every League in the world. Except
Nigeria.
Here
is a summary of those results:
Germany
Champions:
Bayern
Away
win percentage: 88%
Bottom
club: Greuther Furth
Home
win percentage: 0%
Final
points differential between top (91) and bottom (21) 77% (91-21)
England
Champions:
Man Utd
Away
win percentage: 63%
Bottom
club: QPR
Home
win percentage: 10%
Points
differential: 72% (89-25)
Holland
Champions:
Ajax
Away
win percentage: 73%
Bottom
club: Willem II
Home
win percentage: 29%
Points
differential: 70% (76-23)
Colombia
Top
team: Deportes Tolima
Away
win percentage: 67%
Bottom
club: Cucuta
Home
win percentage: 33%
Points
differential: 69%
Yemen
Champions
Al Yarmuk
Away
win percentage 38%
Bottom
club Taliat Taiz
Home
win percentage 15%
Points
differential 73% (49-13)
Trinidad &
Tobago
Champions:
Defence Force
Away
win percentage 62%
Bottom
club: T &TEC
Home
win percentage: 8%
Points
differential: 82% (46-8)
Ghana
Champions:
Asante Kotoko
Away
win percentage: 47%
Bottom
club: Real Tamale
Home
win percentage: 0%
Points
differential 96% (56-2)
South Africa
Champions:
Kaizer Chiefs
Away
win percentage: 47%
Bottom
club: Black Leopards
Home
win percentage: 20%
Points
differential: 60%
So
on average, the away win percentage of top teams across four continents is 61
percent while the home win percentage for the bottom teams is 15 percent.
For
Nigeria, it is a measly 10 percent win percentage for the top team and a
massive 68 percent home win percentage for the bottom team.
A
clear difference in quality is also evident across all of the other leagues,
with the points differential between top and bottom holding at a steady average
of 75 percent.
In
Nigeria, the difference between the top team team’s final points and that of
the bottom team is a mere 26 percent.
The
figures are also consistent over three seasons for Nigeria as shown below from
the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 seasons.
NIGERIA
2012/2013
Champions
Kano Pillars
Away
win percentage 10%
Bottom
club 3SC
Home
win percentage 68%
Point
differential 26% (63-46)
NIGERIA
2011/2012
Champions
Kano Pillars
Away
win percentage 5.5%
Bottom
club Rising Stars
Home
win percentage 55.5%
Points
differential 36% (61-39)
NIGERIA
2010/2011
Champions
Dolphins
Away
win percentage 27.7%
Bottom
club JUTH FC
Home
win percentage 42%
Points
differential 56% (73-32)
Something
is seriously broken in the Nigerian League football system, and the reasons are
not farfetched. Referees have been accused of corruption, with the most recent
allegation coming from Gbenga Elegbeleye, Director General of the National
Sports Commission in September. “Our referees are not getting picked for
major tournaments because of corruption,” Elegbeleye, a former member of
parliament told the media.
His
comment drew scathing rebuttal from referees across the country, including this
from Robert Akpenpuun, former Public Relations Officer of the Abuja chapter of
the Nigeria Referees Association, which ended up making the same point.
“The
“must win at home” syndrome of Nigerian teams is responsible for the
allegation,” Akpenpuun told The Nation, explaining that the arrangement by
league organisers of football matches does not provide the referees opportunity
to be fair.
“The
home team will pick you [referee] up from the stadium, take you [the referee]
to your hotel room and provide feeding. How do you think the referees will be
objective in their officiating?”
Corruption
is encouraged even more by intimidation of match officials and visiting teams
by violent elements of home support.
Referees
have a choice of either accepting gratification to favour home teams, or suffer
physical assault if the result goes the wrong way.
Visiting
teams hardly help their case, either. Either owing to cash trouble, or just
officials trying to scrimp in order to divert money to private pockets, teams
travel in (usually) poorly maintained buses over long distances, on roads
pockmarked with potholes.
As
a result, robberies and vehicular breakdowns are so common that they are even
enshrined in the League rules:
Art
4.2(4) If a club vehicle breaks down on its way to a match, the club must send
an official to the venue of the match to report before the start of the match.
The match shall then be played the next day. If the club still fails to show up
the club shall be fined Two Million Naira only {N2, 000, 000.00} and forfeit 3
points 3 goals to the opponent.
The
term ‘Hotel de Bus’ is also used by players to refer to teams sleeping in the
team bus overnight rather than transit at a hotel when they travel long
distances.
Both
players and officials end up sharing the cash saved from the extra night’s
hotel bill.
League
officials say they are working hard to fix the problems. “We’ve already
had more away wins this season than in the past,” Nduka Irabor, chairman
of the League Management Company says.
“Our
football system is currently undergoing a rebuilding process, but I’m hoping
that things will get better in future.
“We
are working closely with the referees association in order to improve their pay
package to ensure that they will not be influenced by various clubs
administrators in terms of inducing the outcome of games in favour of home
teams,” Irabor told Nigerianpremierleague.com.ng.
“We
have also had talks with the Nigeria police, the civil defence and other
relevant authorities with regards to providing adequate security at league
venues,” Nduka said.
It’s
a start.
Perhaps
then, the numbers will align with the rest of the world, and we can laugh,
rather than be laughed at.

Culled
from www.kickoffnigeria.com

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