June, 29 2023.
Ahead of the reopening of the July 1, 2023 transfer window of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL), the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) or any regulatory body that will be saddled with the responsibility of running affairs of the nation's top flight league, have been advised to reasonably enforce the provisions of FIFA and CAF Club licensing regulations.
A legal practitioner, who is an expert in Sports Law, Barrister Amobi Ezeaku made the plea while speaking exclusively to www.ckdmedia.ng on ways to further improve on the gains, the Interim Management Committee made while ressursitating the league, which regressed a lot in the preceding eight years.
According to Barrister Ezeaku, while the reforms started by the IMC are sustained by the body to oversee the upcoming 2023/24 season, one of the only other ways to make the NPFL a better brand, is to sanitize issues bothering on players' welfare, like well structured contracts, and salary.
"Football has gone far beyond the era when it was merely an entertainment. Football today is a big multi-million Naira business, capable of employing tens of thousands of youths. Hence, there is every need for the players and coaches to be paid their entitlements, as at and when due", the lawyer said.
He added that it will be counter-productive and unwholesome if the NFF or the regulatory body of the league decides to look the other way, while the pervasive trend of clubs undermining the welfare of their players, continue unabated.
"Despite finishing the season strongly, Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu and his players at Plateau United are still owed several months of salary arrears and the story is the same with Enyimba of Aba and many other clubs", he lamented.
Enyimba, the newly crowned NPFL Champions and their sister club, Abia Warriors of Umuahia are owed not less than four months salary in arrears by the Abia State government, who on Thursday held a reception for the team for winning the 2022/23 NPFL title.
Barrister Ezeaku said it is almost a taboo in football parlance, for professional clubs to make owing their gladiators salaries, sign-on fees and match bonuses a routine.
He also urged the players and coaches not to vowed, or make themselves perpetual victims, by refraining from making their grievances heard.
Only last week, one of the seasoned coaches in the NPFL, Abdul Maikaba told the media that of all the clubs he had worked with, Kano Pillars, Enyimba (twice), Wikki Tourists and Plateau United, only Rangers has been able to pay him all his entitlements, and are not owing him a dime.
Maikaba walked away from the Flying Antelopes, after his team were beaten 1-0 by Bendel Insurance of Benin in the final of the 2023 NFF/Tingo Federation Cup and the unwillingness of the management of Rangers to renew his expiring two-year contract.