By
China Acheru
With
the Nigeria Professional Football League just one match day to go, the more
serious clubs should begin to plan for the next season already.
Of
course there is still the fight against relegation at the bottom of the table
while the top of the table clash has to do with either winning the title or
qualifying to play on the continent.
One
thing that has been clear since the Nigerian league began in 1972 is the fact
that Nigerian clubs are structured to play for three points every match day and
in between match days little or nothing happens.
Sadly,
in forty four years of league football in Nigeria, the clubs are still set up
just to play for three points every match day
The professional
touch
However,
after an eight day trip to the Spanish cities of Valencia and Cadiz where they
attended training sessions, Nigerian football administrators may begin to look
beyond three points as the reasons why their clubs were set up.
Chairman
of Abia Warriors, Emeka Inyama who was part of the group that visited Spain for
the Laliga tour is optimistic that things can change and says he will look for
experts to run different departments in his club.
“We
need to look for experts because football is not a one man show,” Inyama said.
“In
Spain last month for the La Liga tour, we learned that improving on player
capacity and development is as important as the three points we play for every
weekend.
“The
tour was well packaged and the challenge for us now is to go back to our clubs
and put the things we learned into developing our football,” Inyama said.
General
Manager of Warri Wolves, Moses Etu agrees with Inyama, saying that that
professionals must be brought in to run Nigerian clubs.
“We
will certainly restructure Warri Wolves but this will be done at the end of the
season because there is no time to do it now,” Etu said.
“We
will look at the staff quality and certainly those that are not useful to us
may go.
“We
also need professionals to manage the commercial side of the club and then a
human resources manager.
“The
fans are our number one priority now and we will strategise on improving our
relationship with fans of the club,” Etu said.
No hurry about
changes
But
chairman of Nasarawa United, Danladi Isaac insists that though they are anxious
and eager to make changes to the way their clubs are run, they will not jump
head long into it.
“We
are anxious and eager to make changes and we believe there will be changes in
the way our clubs are run from next season, but we must be cautious and
understand that Rome was not built in a day.
“I
learned a lot and I am sure my colleagues learned a lot but these changes must
be gradual so we don’t upset the apple cart.
“For
us at Nasarawa United, we are especially looking at the issue of fans
attendance and engagement as we will try to create peaceful and entertaining
environments to bring the fans back,” Isaac said.
Beyond the three
points
For
chairman of the League Management Company, Shehu Dikko, Nigerian clubs must
look beyond three points as they continue their restructuring programs.
According
to Dikko, the three points acquired on match day is only about thirty percent
of what makes a football club.
“We
learned our lessons from the LaLiga tour and everybody has a story to tell and
I am sure the club administrators cannot wait to begin to implement these in
their clubs.
“We
need to do a lot to improve our game. It’s about participation and improving
fans base which in turn improves revenue. It must be beyond the three points
and that is why ahead of next football season, we will start a campaign with
the slogan, ‘beyond the three points’
Dikko
cited fans engagement, a proper admin structure, physical club structures, the
business of football amongst others as seventy percent of what makes a football
club.
“The
three points our clubs play for every match days is just about thirty percent
of what makes a football club while there are other aspects which are as
important or even more important because the three points without fans means
low commercial value that will affect the club in the long run.
“The
same way three points without a proper club structure, playing philosophy or
marketing plan will count for nothing in the long run.
“We
need to change that mentality so people know they would be judged more on
stadium structure, admin structure, media visibility, etc, rather than just the
three points,” Dikko said.
And
to this, Danladi Isaac agrees by saying, “Playing basically for three points
puts lots of pressure on the players.”
Isaac
says the stadiums must come alive again.
“We
want to return our fans to the terraces. We are looking at a situation where we
will have a full house every match day.”
As
fans and watchers of the league wait patiently for the next football season to
begin to see the benefits of the Laliga tour in August, Mutui Adepoju also
pleads for caution from club owners, the media and fans alike.
Adepoju
who played most of his football with Real Sociedad in Spain in the 90s now runs
the LaLiga office in Nigeria and says Organisation and structure must work for
the gains of the recent tour to show fruition.
“If
we can have a structure that works, then we will see the best of Nigerian
football, but let us not act like there will be no challenges,” Adepoju said.

“There
are obvious challenges in Nigeria, but having been to Spain and attending all
the workshops and interactive sessions, I believe things will change this time
around,” Adepoju said.

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