Gusau meets warring clubs, IMC, others today

ebeb ibrahim gusau
ebeb ibrahim gusau

President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Ibrahim Gusau, will on Thursday (today) meet the representatives of the 20 Nigeria Professional Football League clubs, the Interim Management Committee of the NPFL, the Nigeria Referees Association and members of the newly reconstituted NFF referees and match commissioners’ committees in Abuja.

The meeting, which was called at separate instances, is a crucial convergence of stakeholders ahead of the commencement of the 2022/23 NPFL season, which has raised issues between the IMC and the club owners, majority of who have kicked against the abridged format adopted for this season by the IMC.

The draw for the 2022/23 season was conducted penultimate Wednesday in Abuja, with only four clubs 3SC, Remo Stars, Niger Tornadoes and newly promoted Doma United in attendance, while the 16 others, who preferred the full league, boycotted the ceremony in protest over the format of the league.

Head of Operations of the IMC, Davison Owumi, sent the notice of the meeting to the clubs, which read in part, “In preparation for the commencement of the 2022/2023 NPFL season, I wish to notify you of the scheduled meeting of the Nigeria Football Federation president with the NPFL club chairmen, IMC and the NRA.”

But stakeholders and close followers of the NPFL faulted the exclusion of the league’s title rights holder Total Promotions from the crucial deliberations ahead of the commencement of the league.

had reported last month that in a bid to achieve its mandate of repositioning the league, the IMC held a meeting with the Nigeria Television Authority in Abuja, with discussions reportedly centered on how the national TV could partner with the league body in broadcasting live matches of the NPFL to Nigerians.

The IMC was also reported to have opened discussions with MultiChoice to get SuperSports to broadcast the league to the international audience.

Some keen followers of the events leading to the league opener on Sunday insist leaving out Total Promotions can trigger legal battles over the title and broadcast rights ownership of the league.

“It’s absurd and unthinkable that the IMC, which is constituted by people who know that Total Promotions are the rights holders of the league, are the same people who want to go ahead to broadcast the league illegally. This can cause more legal problems for the league, if not properly resolved,”  a concerned stakeholder told our correspondent.

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After the IMC meeting with the NTA, our correspondent learnt Total Promotions wrote to both parties, warning them of the legal implications of broadcasting the league, while it still had the title and broadcast rights.

In the letter titled ‘Buyers Beware!’ and dated November 8, 2022, which was addressed to the Director-General of NTA, Salihu Abdulhamid Dembos, Total Promotions owner Niyi Alonge warned the television station against broadcasting the league.

“Please be informed that following the ongoing court tussle in Lagos High Court in Suit No: LD/997/2013 between Total Promotions Limited (claimant), Nigeria Football League Limited/League Management Company (defendants), the court ordered an interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants from interfering in any way with the performance of broadcast rights contract between the claimant and defendants,” the statement read in part.

“You (NTA) will therefore be well advised not to proceed with any further act that will amount to disregard of court judgments, including Supreme Court judgements as attached. NTA’s attempt to get involved in this matter of broadcast rights shall be viewed as contemptuous of judgements of the court, including judgement of the Supreme Court, the highest court of the land. Also, given the appeal by the LMC, that further makes the matter very sub-judice. You (NTA) have been put on notice.”

Meanwhile, the IMC will also present a take-off grant of N10m to each of the 20 clubs.

Chairman of the IMC, Gbenga Elegbeleye, said, “We promised to give support to the clubs through our sponsors, and we will do that. Remember we had a four-team pre-season tournament, each of the clubs were given N10m as participation and the winners got N100m. So, what we say, we do and the winners of this season again, will get N100m.

“Our own pact is that sponsors will pay the referees directly, so that we will eliminate the chances of owing referees or referees doing the bidding of home teams and any club that is found wanting of crowd violence will not be subjected to monetary fines but three points will be deducted from them. We have to change the narrative so we can have a better league.”

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