Finally, the League Management Company, LMC have come out with an official table for the 2019/ 20 League season but the controversies continue as usual.
First, I blame them for this because they eventually did what some of us knew three months ago, that Enyimba will be the second club in the CAF Champions League.
For the life of me, I cannot understand why the League will end and two months later we are still arguing over positions on the table, but it is what it is.
Finally, we have ticked off that one and we know that Plateau United and Enyimba will play in the CAF Champions League while Rivers United and Kano Pillars will play in the CAF Confederation Cup.
Moving forward, I believe we should be quick to act because delays like these bring room for speculations and agenda setting.
Why Rivers United must go to court
People, especially in Nigeria are very boastful and hardly ever put their money where their mouths are.
It is on Nigerian streets that you hear a passer-by tell a taxi driver who drove roughly, something like, “Like say you jam me, you for see.” Meaning “I would have dealt with you if your car had hit me.”
You hear things on the streets like these when actually, the talker could not have done anything if that action had taken place.
And that is why on behalf of Rivers United I am threatening the League Management Company, LMC and reiterating that we will go to court. (I hope we can see my tongue carefully placed in my cheek here)
At the start of this whole issue of final league table, Points Per Game and all, Rivers United was quoted by lots of news outlets as threatening to go as far as the Court of Arbitrations for Sports, CAS if they are denied second position on the table.
This is the time to put their money where their mouth is.
I believe that Nigerian league clubs have to begin to show some seriousness.
The league table published by the LMC certainly put them in third place so it will be a beauty to watch how this unfolds.
That Rivers United press statement
Late on Saturday, a press statement purportedly signed by the General Manager of Rivers United, Okey Kpalikwu and written on the club’s letter headed paper made the rounds on Social Media.
I use the word, “purportedly” carefully because I find it hard to believe that is a club official statement. The language was uncouth and sounded too confrontational to be taken seriously, but I do not want to digress here.
The letter acted as though they did not know the League Management Company had published official final tables for the season and I will quote some parts of it
Our attention has been drawn to a purported Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) table being circulated around the media space…
…nothing can be further from the truth, as such consideration can only exist in the imagination of those peddling the fake table…
Those peddling the fake table were the League Management Company themselves. That was a bold statement by Rivers United.
The statement from the Club General Manager continues by educating us on how the league really ended and what the final table was like. Another bold move.
My confusion here is that this table was published on the League’s official website and was on its official twitter. Unless, the Rivers United GM is trying to suggest that the LMC Twitter and website were hacked, or maybe the letter from Rivers United is fake? No it is not. It came from Rivers United and from the office of its General Manager.
The truth about the Rivers United argument
I believe the General Manager, Okey Kpalikwu is just grandstanding.
He attended those meetings of the club chairmen, agreed with all the decisions and voted accordingly in favour of Points Per Game, I hear. Before the voting, I am aware that the League Management Company, LMC office furnished the clubs with the rules or lack of it, as a result of the force majeure. Kpalikwu knew, I was told that Rivers United will finish in 3rd place and the clubs issued a statement. At this point, Okey Kpalikwu was aware and was happy with the 3rd placing of his club, so what gave?
How he all of a sudden made an about turn to challenge something he was part of from the get go is a shocking as Professor Peller’s hat disappearing from his head and landing on that of the waiter serving the table at the back of the hall.
How they allowed their Media Office to publish a league table from the figment of their imagination is also another issue that blows the mind.
I heard, Port Harcourt based sportscaster, Emeka Dennar on his show on Monday morning say the Rivers United General Manager, Okey Kpalikwu told him in an interview that the LMC only mooted the idea of Weighted Points Per Game, WPPG at the time to end the League or play a Super 6.
He said it was just the idea of the LMC and that the board or clubs were not consulted. Kpalikwu agrees that the club owners met virtually and agreed to vote and seventeen agreed that PPG be used. He insisted that they only voted on the use of PPG and no tie breaker was discussed.
The truth is that there are rules concerning situations like these and the General Manager may or may not have been aware but how he let the club’s Media Office run amok on social media is bothersome.
The LMC would certainly have something to say about this.
How to go to CAS
Rivers United threatened, once again, in that statement from the office of Okey Kpalikwu to go to the Nigeria Football Federation, Sports Ministry, FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
We need to put our money where our mouth is so I advise them to go straight to CAS and not waste our time any more.
I have been trying to get the figures of what it will cost to take a case to that court but cannot confirm the actual amount.
My sources tell me, though, that it will cost around $250, 000 (Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars which is just a little over ninety one million naira). If this is true, then it is chicken change. Ninety one million naira is something the Rivers State government can afford so Kpalikwu should do it. He should go to CAS.
What happened in the League these past three months has been a shame. The League Management Company should be more decisive going forward, with decision making and the clubs should not be flippant regarding issues as these.
I will also be disappointed if the League Management Company lets Rivers United go scot free on this.
While, it is my belief that the LMC did not handle this situation well, a club in the league should not be throwing press statements around like a loose canon. Statements like these bring the game to disrepute. Potential sponsors will not like what they read about how the league is being handled, though we can all blame COVID 19 for all out problems.
Welcome to the CAF Champions League, Plateau United, and Enyimba; We wish you luck in the Confederation Cup, Kano Pillars, and Rivers United.