From Abel Leonard, Lafia
In an exclusive interview with our correspondent, Abel Leonard, Gbenga Elegbeleye, the Interim Management Committee (IMC) Chairman of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), discusses his Committee remarkable accomplishments in transforming the league and overcoming its longstanding challenges.
He sheds light on the strategies the IMC is using for fostering transparency, ensuring prompt payments to referees and match commissioners, attracting partners and sponsors, and eradicating the detrimental practice of buying games.
Through their visionary leadership, the IMC have set the stage for a new era of professionalism and integrity within Nigerian football.
Question, Could you tell us about the progress the IMC have made in transforming the league?
Gbenga Elegbeleye: One of our primary objectives has been to transform the Nigeria Professional Football League into a more professional and competitive platform.
We have implemented various initiatives to improve the league’s standard and overall management. These include enhancing the quality of facilities, upgrading the level of coaching and training, and implementing strict licensing criteria for clubs. We are also focused on fostering transparency and accountability throughout the league.
Question. Another crucial aspect of a well-functioning league is the timely payment of referees and match commissioners. How have the IMC ensured that their payments are made 24 hours before the kick-off of any match?
Gbenga Elegbeleye: Ensuring the prompt payment of referees and match commissioners is vital for maintaining the integrity of our league. We will like to appreciate our corporate partners, the GTI Group. They are instrumental to the success recorded in this particular area.
By establishing efficient financial systems and close coordination, we have been able to ensure that these officials receive their payments at least 24 hours before each match. This not only motivates them but also reduces the risk of external influences on their decisions.
Question, Attracting partners and sponsors is crucial for the growth and sustainability of any sports league. How have the IMC been able to encourage investments in the NPFL?
Gbenga Elegbeleye: Attracting partners and sponsors is indeed essential to the development of the Nigeria Professional Football League. We have been collaborating with the GTI group to drive the process and actively engaged with potential investors, both locally and internationally, showcasing the immense potential and marketability of our league.
By highlighting the positive strides we have made in terms of transparency, quality, and fan engagement, we have been successful in capturing the interest of various sponsors and partners. Our goal is to create mutually beneficial partnerships that will drive the league forward and provide long-term financial stability.
Question, one of the challenges often faced in football leagues is the practice of buying games. How was your team able to tackle this issue and put an end to it?
Gbenga Elegbeleye: Tackling match-fixing and ensuring the integrity of the league has been a top priority for us. We have implemented strict measures and protocols to prevent any form of match manipulation or buying of games.
This includes enhanced security and monitoring systems, robust investigations into any suspicious activities, and the enforcement of severe penalties for those found guilty of match-fixing.
Additionally, we have worked to foster a culture of fair play and ethical conduct among clubs, players, and officials through education and awareness programs. These efforts have significantly reduced the fixing of matches this season.
Question: Mr. Elegbeleye. It’s evident that the IMC made significant strides in transforming the league, how then is your team planning to ensure the continuity of these positive developments even after your tenure?
Gbenga Elegbeleye: That’s a valid concern, and we understand the need for continuity in the progress we have made. To ensure the sustainability of these positive changes, we have been working on institutionalizing the reforms.
This involves collaborating closely with the relevant football authorities, such as the Nigerian Football Federation and the ministry, to integrate the implemented initiatives into the league’s governance structures and regulations.
By establishing robust systems, processes, and guidelines, we aim to create a solid foundation upon which future administrations can build.
Additionally, we are also focused on developing a talent pipeline for administrators, coaches, and referees, investing in their training and capacity building to ensure a pool of competent professionals who can carry forward the positive changes made during our tenure.
Question: is there anything else you would like to add or any message you would like to share with football fans and stakeholders?
Gbenga Elegbeleye: I would like to express my gratitude to the football fans, stakeholders, and all those who have supported us throughout this journey. A big appreciation for the support of the NFF and the Federal ministry of Youths and Sports Development.
The success we have achieved so far would not have been possible without their unwavering support. I want to assure everyone that we remain committed to the growth and development of Nigerian football.
We will continue to work tirelessly to improve the league’s standards, enhance fan experiences, and create opportunities for players and clubs to thrive. Together, we can take Nigerian football to new heights.
Question, Thank you once again for your time, and for sharing the vision of the IMC for the Nigeria Professional Football League.
Gbenga Elegbeleye: Thank you, it has been a pleasure speaking with you.
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