7 minutes with China: Who’s afraid of Lobi Stars as League champions?

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The
Nigeria Professional Football League ended prematurely on Match Day
24 and not 38 but that is not the point of this piece because we all
know the circumstances that put the League in that situation.
However,
there has been an almost unending argument over who the League
champions of the 2017/18 season are with one school of thought
sticking with Lobi Stars and the other simply content with calling
them Nigeria’s representatives in the CAF Champions League for next
season.
A trip back, down
memory lane
It is
not a long trip anyway but we all remember that the League went on
break for the World Cup and was to resume on July 18, 2018 before the
League Management Company, LMC suspended its resumption as a result
of the crisis in Nigeria’s football.
With
a resumption date fixed for September 2, rumours making the rounds
pointed to a “no resumption of the league” and a consensus winner
agreed by the clubs.
Unreal
as it may sound, the clubs met with representatives of the LMC and
Football Federation and decided to concede the top spot to Lobi Stars
as representatives in the CAF Champions League next year.
Lobi Stars: Champions
or nay?
So if
the clubs conceded top spot to Lobi Stars and they will now represent
the country in the CAF Champions League next season, why aren’t they
the League champions?
According
to a press statement issued by the League Management Company, “An
emergency joint consultative meeting of the League Management Company
(LMC), the 20 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)
participating Clubs and members of the Nigeria Football
Federation(NFF) Executive Committee resolved amongst many other far
reaching decisions to declare Lobi Stars as the country’s
representative in next season’s CAF Champions League.”
So
again, the question has to be asked, “Aren’t Lobi Stars the League
champions by default?”
Why
is this too difficult to agree on?
The
LMC statement continued, “By this decision, the 2017/18 NPFL season
has been deemed concluded at Match Day 24 which was already played
before the disruption.”
If
the League was concluded at Match Day 24, is the leader at the time
of its conclusion not the champion?
According to
www.dictionary.com,
“champion” is
  1. a person who has defeated all opponents in
    a competition or series of competitions, so
    as to hold first place.
Remember, Lobi Stars held
first place at the time the League officially ended, though on Match
Day 24. Now unless, there would be a continuation of the 2017/18
season, this definition declares Lobi Stars as League champions, but
there is more.
  1. anything that takes first place in competition
Same of the same. A
competition started and all participants agreed to end it at a
particular time. Lobi Stars was first at the time it ended so they
are champions.
So, based on what the
dictionary tells us, there is no reason not to declare Lobi Stars the
League champions, but since we are talking Association Football here,
let us go to what the statutes say about who a/ the champion is.
What do football
statutes say?
Article 1 of the General
Rule Section of the CAF Statutes says
The Confederation of
African Football shall organise a yearly competition called
The CAF Champions League,
open to champion clubs of the National League of Affiliated
Associations.
The winner of CAF Champions League must take part
in the next edition.
  1. The 12 countries
    obtaining the best results in the clubs competitions during the
    previous five years will be allowed to register a second team,
    namely the runner-up of the national league. According to the
    conditions defined in the present regulations.
So it is clear
for the CAF Statutes that for teams that have one representative in
the Competition, it is open to the champion of their league and for
teams that have two representatives, there would be a second team
apart from the League champions.
Nigeria can
only register one team so your guess is as good as mine.
What do the
LMC statutes say about who the champion club is?
The
League Management Company has on it website certain guidelines and
series of information called, Framework and Rules which also explains
how a champion is determined in the league.
3.8. The Club which
is at the top of the table at the end of the Season shall be the
League Champions.
The organisers of the
League clearly state in article 3.8 of their own framework that the
club at the top of the table at the end of the season shall be the
League Champions.
At the end of the league,
as determined by the 20 participating clubs, Lobi Stars was at the
top of the table, so who is afraid of naming them the League
Champions?
The League Management
Company in its statement after the meeting with the twenty clubs was
careful not to name Lobi as League champions, rather, as
representatives in the CAF Champions League, but from all
indications, they would have done nothing wrong if they had named
Lobi Stars because they are indeed the League champions.
In 1982, the League ended
abruptly and had to be awarded to Rangers after there was a case in
court stopping normal play.
Rangers International were
declared League winners regardless, and the 1982 title is counted as
part of the 7 League titles they have won.
The League Management
Company should do what is right according to their own statutes and
declare Lobi Stars the League champions and hand them the trophy too.
There is nothing wrong
with that.



Lobi Stars are the champions of the Nigerian league, 2017/18, Period! 

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