Friday, August 21, 2009

Club Managers Or Damagers?

Issues have continually been raised in Ilorin among some journalists and administrators concerning the managers of Premier League clubs in the country. There has been talk about how much money these club bosses across the country get as budget for the entire season and yet fail to pay signing-on fees, match bonuses and salaries. A number of the top club bosses have been fingered as using their teams as conduit pipes to siphon money for personal use. During one of my discussions with some of the journalists covering the Super Four in Ilorin, they revealed that there are clubs who get as much as N300 million to N500 million to compete in a season. Indeed that is massive money being injected into a club.
One Premier League club that spent below N100 million in the immediate past season is Gateway Football Club. The Rock City Boys spent a total of N80 million. Why one might ask? This is because the club management decided to have a salary cap within its budget and refused to up the ante like most of other clubs though that has caused the modest Premier League side its head coach, Gbenga Ogunbote, who has been confirmed to have joined Kwara United.
With such massive fees being pumped into Premier League clubs across the country, it is estimated that the top-flight in Nigeria is worth close to between N10 billion and N20 billion if every naira and kobo pumped into the championship is accounted for.
Due to the attitude of club managers, as it concerns improving on branding, staff welfare and infrastructure, the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) is keen to see the ownership of these clubs exchange hands. The Premier League board chairman, Oyuki Obaseki, made it clear in the Glo League International Seminar during the week that the NPL is ready to assist in wrestling the clubs from the grasps of state governments in order for them to be run as registered liability companies. At the moment, only club out of 20 in the Premier League is almost out of the hands of its former sole financier. It is learnt that at least 80 per cent of Lobi Stars has been bought by an individual fronting for a group of companies anyway. But the problem with the Lobi Stars’ deal from what I learnt is that it would be a lease for just five years and then the government would take over again. Not such an impressive deal anyway.
So many issues have been raised on how the clubs can generate funds for themselves throughout the season. Unfortunately majority of the club chairmen are blinded by the huge amount pumped into their teams by their state governments and which are usually not put to good use. Most of the funds, rather than go for the signing of quality players, payment of signing-on fees, salaries and match bonuses are diverted into other private venture of individuals running such clubs. At least, the club managers can take a cue from the Premier Leagues in Ghana and South Africa.
It is just a month away from the start of the new season and a number of the Premier League clubs are yet to pay huge outstanding debts owed players and officials accruing from last season. The same happened in Argentina and the league had to be stopped until the debts were paid. We hope that the Premier League would not degenerate to that level.

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