The Championship Play offs for the 2018/2019 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) ends today at the Agege Stadium in Lagos with a tricky but fitting finale.
It is a deserving end to the six-club competition which, in spite of its abridged nature from the beginning in January, is climaxing with three matches crucial to the available rewards.
Three matches daily over four match days since June 4 have shown that the Super Six competition can always be an exciting prospect.
With 36 goals scored during eight wins and four draws in 12 matches, Wednesday’s three matches offer hopes of more exciting moments.
The day’s first match at 3 p.m. will see Rangers International Football Club of Enugu needing to beat FC IfeanyiUbah of Nnewi to finish among the top three.
Rangers who won the Group A of the abridged regular season and are presently fourth need the full points to leapfrog now third-placed Akwa United FC of Uyo.
FC IfeanyiUbah are already out of contention for any of the three tickets to play on the continent next season, but they will not just lie in wait to be crushed.
However, going by the statistics, Rangers look capable of beating them, even by the slimmest of margins, in spite of their Eastern Nigeria rivalry.
But the question is whether beating FC IfeanyiUbah will be enough to earn Rangers a CAF Confederation Cup competition ticket, given that Akwa United can still upstage them with a win.
The Uyo side will take on Enyimba International FC of Aba from 5 p.m. and a win will keep them within the top three bracket for a return to the continent.
They, apart from having won Group B of the abridged regular season, are unbeaten so far at the playoffs just like Kano Pillars.
However, Enyimba will need just a draw to be in line for a CAF Champions League ticket, and they can seek a win to be able to claim the season’s title.
Lobi Stars FC of Makurdi and Kano Pillars meet from 7 p.m. to round up proceedings at the playoffs, with the latter needing a draw to win a continental competition slot.
But the unbeaten Kano Pillars have all it takes to claim a win which will not only upstage Enyimba but also give them the 2018/2019 title.
NBBF Awaits Court Judgement On Premier League
It’s been over a year since the Premier Basketball League was halted by a court injunction against the NBBF.
A law suit filed by a League Management Committee is arguing that the Musa Kida-board cannot legally host a new PBL season.
Whilst the legal tussle is expected to reach a conclusion on October 13, when the Court gives its judgment, the lacuna has been disruptive of Basketball activities in the country and particularly for Players in the division, a situation Kida says he sympathizes with.
“My heart really goes out to the Players, but I’m sure they won’t forget that we’ve had some programs where I personally ring-fenced participation; I cordoned it off so that they have a chance to compete,
“We were stopped from the league, legally. NBBF is a good “corporate citizen” of the country, so we respect the law and that’s why we are not holding the Kwese Premier League,” he told brila.net.
However, for the NBBF its had to dig in and unearth what was a moribund “D-League” to bring any type of normalcy to what was quickly becoming basketball’s worst era.
The Federation swung into action and commissioned the D-Leagues, opening up the game to an excess of 200 teams with prospective pro players in their ranks.
After an initial two-year contract was signed in 2018, the NBBF struck a 5-year extension with the title sponsor for a ¦ 150million deal.
A paltry sum considering it’s a spread of ¦ 30million across the five years but it represents a meaningful contribution to keep the ball bouncing and the sport alive.
Yet, there are deeper questions about the structure of teams coming through and transparency in a league where the first season was wrought with irregularities.
With the much talked about Re-categorization of Sports as a Business in the country, what plans are in the works to trial the process with D1 and D2 Leagues when the Government lifts all restrictions on contact sports – the suspension was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NBBF isn’t clear on these crucial areas and there’s a feeling that it isn’t getting the best value for one of Nigeria’s biggest sport.
Nonetheless, it is a project that excites Kida:
“Nobody makes too much noise of our divisions 2 and 1, but they are really all year long, they’re being played at the lowest levels, at state level so maybe that’s why they don’t make too much noise until the conference or national finals.”
Sports In The Storm Of Coronavirus
Sports like every other human endeavour has been hit by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Precisely in the month of April, 2020 the sporting world witnessed the cancellation and postponement of major sporting events across the globe, with the Olympics games in Tokyo being the worst hit. From the football loving nation of Brazil to the ever enterprising National Basketball Association in America, One after the other sporting activities were brought to a halt due to the rampaging manner in which the virus was spreading. The prestigious Wimbledon Open was for the first time cancelled since World war II, a development which many in the business described as a huge blow to the sporting world.
It was no doubt a tough decision for organizers of these sporting events to shutdown their activities because of the economic loss it would have on them. However, the health implications posed by the virus not only to the athletes but their families as well leaves them with no choice but to take certain stringent measures to safeguard their lives during the pandemic.
There is no gain saying that sport is an employer of labour in most countries of the world, in fact, in countries like Spain, Brazil, Italy and south Africa to mention but a few, sport accounts for a large percentage of employment and livilyhood of the people and that is why countries that depend largely on earnings from sport would do anything to ensure that the sector is protected at this time. Recently, in Europe, to cushion the effect of the pandemic on footbaH clubs, the European Football Association (UEFA) made available nearly 70 million euros ($75million) of compensation payments to clubs ahead of schedule to deal with the impact of covid 19 related stoppage.
In less known sport like formula One which has suffered greatly among the community of sport, the governing body the FIFA has also set aside some sort of relief to teams to help them stay afloat while the deadly virus continues to spread unabated.
The story is not different in .. frica where medical facilities are in short supply or non- existent to fight the pandemic. In a continent where the sport sector is not so much of a revenue earner the impact on sport has not been colossal when compared to other parts of the world. In Nigeria for instance, the Presidential Taskforce on Covid19 just to show their resentment towards sporting activities played down the important of sport during one of its daily briefing. To further show its lack of interest in the resumption of sporting activities in the country, Chairman of the taskforce and Secretary to the government of the federation, Boss Mustapha took a subtle jibe at the Nigerian Professional football league by suggesting that unlike several European leagues which have returned or have announced definite resumption dates, the Nigeria Professional Football League has no business case for resuming.
The national sport festival which is arguably the biggest sporting showpiece in the land has also suffered similar fate as no date has been fixed for its commencement.
But for the intervention of FIFA, the global football governing body that came to the rescue of teams on the continent, perhaps many football clubs would have gone into administration or liquidated.
As a forthright thinking organization, FIFA made available palliatives to its 211 member associations as a way of reducing the financial burden they might suffer when normal football activities resumes. The Nigerian football federation for example, received from FIFA and CAF about 800,000 dollars to support them in the running of football in the country. It is expected that these kind gesture would be judiciously utilized by the beneficiaries for the overall good of the game.
The question on the lips of many is what will become of sport when normal activities resume and fans allowed to return to watch their favorite athletes take part in their respective sports. Will it still be appealing to the fans? Will investors have faith in putting their money in a sector greatly affected by the deadly pandemic? Only time will tell of what would become of our darling sport when normalcy is restored.
Jamaica writes from Port Harcourt.
LMC Provides Prize Money For League Winners
The Chairman of League Management Company, Mallam Shehu Dikko has confirmed that the winners of the 2020-2021 Nigeria professional football league season will smile home with a cash prize.
The League Management Company last awarded prize money three years ago, when, winners Plateau United was awarded (N50, 000, 000) after their success.
The League Organising Body was faced with financial difficulties due to lack of major sponsors, but the Dikko said all that has following the recently signed deal with Redstrike Sports.
“There will be prize money (next season) the way we used to pay before. It’s not the first time we have paid prize monies,”
“Before we had challenges with our TV partners, we had introduced not just prize money, apart from the prize money; we were paying the basic money. We were paying the technical and development money.
“Remember, people use to forget but history will remember us for this, there were times we were paying for away goals scored, we were paying for away wins away draws, if you have 5,000 fans in your stadium, if you play Under-18 players, we’re all paying clubs for that,” Dikko revealed in an interview on Kennis FM.
Meanwhile, the kick-off date for the 2020-2021 Nigeria Professional Football league season is yet to be announced.
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