Friday, August 28, 2009

NPL Stands Firm On Premier League Date

The Nigeria Premier League (NPL) has declared that it would not alter the kick off date for the Globacom Premier League, which has been fixed for September 19.
Premier League board chairman, Oyuki Obaseki, insisted in a telephone call with our correspondent that the commencement date of the top-flight division in the country would not be shifted for any reason.
The Bini High Chief was reacting to speculations that the kick off date of the Premier League may be moved forward to allow clubs from the northern parts of the country, where the Ramadan fast is ongoing to conclude its religious obligation.
But Obaseki explained that moving the commencement date forward would only affect the schedule of the NPL calendar for the 2009/2010 campaign since the league would go on break when the FIFA Under-17 World Cup holds in Nigeria between October 24 and November 15.
“I have respect for everyone’s religion but in this case I don’t think there will be an exception because when the Under-17 World Cup begins, we would have lost a whole month. So if we shift the league kick off date that means we will not be able to meet up with our calendar, as we had hoped. Remember that some of our clubs are taking part and would take part in CAF club competitions this year and next year. So that means we will still alter the calendar at some points to accommodate them because they are representing Nigeria.
“We quite understand that some of the teams have players who are praying and fasting. If we decide to move the date forward, then it could mean that we will not meet up with our May or June date for 2010. So what time, will we have left to prepare for the new season (in 2010/2011)? We are doing this to suit the teams and not ourselves,” Obaseki said.
Ahead of the coming season, the former Bendel Insurance chairman vowed that the NPL would go tough on erring clubs in the areas of hooliganism, match-fixing and poor playing surface.
“There is no bending the rules of the league for anybody when next season starts. Now we have the weapon to fight match-fixing and I dare any club to try me this time on that. As for those who take delight in beating up match officials, they should be prepared for the stiffest punishment this time. Also, we would not allow teams to disgrace us by playing in stadia, where the pitches are terrible because these games will be on television,” he warned.
The official opening game of the Premier League for the new campaign would be between Kano Pillars and Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano.

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