Friday, February 10, 2012

Financial crisis at NPL worsens

The account books of the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) are currently in the red, can report.

Findings into the three accounts operated by the Premier League have indicated that the coffers of the body are near empty including the latest account opened for the clubs to pay their registration fees.

It has also been confirmed that the NPL for the time being has ceded the payment of indemnities of match officials to host clubs from Week 7 matches due to its being cash-strapped.

A handful of referees, who spoke off the record to, confirmed being paid their officiating fees by the host clubs after the Matchday 7 games last weekend.

However, there were a few referees who up till this report did not get their officiating fees for Matchday 7. also learned that the financial situation at the NPL led to the shift in the rescheduled Week 3 games earlier billed to hold on Wednesday and Thursday indefinitely.

The league body's attempt to explore options to raise money to organise Week 8 games for February 11 and 12 across the country has hit a brick wall.

The NPL Acting Secretary, Tunji Babalola said the body has asked the clubs to pay the referees their officiating allowances until the financial issue is sorted out.

"The clubs are not complaining, and because we want to meet up with the calendar we had to ask them to pay indemnities. The league is owned by the clubs and that's why we approached them to pay the referees so that the league continues," Babalola said to

It was learned that centres referees get N35,000 (about $219) as officiating fees while assistant referees earn N30,000 (about $188) and reserve referees are paid N15,000 (about $94) and these payments are excluding running costs such as feeding, transport fares and accommodation, which are subject to distance covered.

The precarious financial position of the NPL has further been complicated owing to the lack of activation of the title sponsorship.

The clubs competing in the top flight are yet to get any sort of league subvention since last season owing to a lack of cash at the NPL.

Another pointer to NPL's financial worries is that last season's champions, Dolphins are yet to be paid their prize money of N5 million (about $31,250).

In the midst of the financial crisis at the NPL, there have been allegations of missing money totalling N41.8 million (about $262,500) in less than a year.

Last year, it was alleged that N30 million was withdrawn from the vault of the league body and could not be accounted for.

An investigation is already ongoing into the missing N30 million.

This week, it was uncovered that N11.8 million was allegedly withdrawn from one of NPL's accounts and the league body's accountant, Joe Ogbowie, was said to have owned up to forging the signature of Babalola to withdraw the funds.

The NPL has already handed over the investigation of the alleged missing N11.8 million to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police.

The NPL accountant, Ogbowie was arrested earlier this week over the alleged missing money.

But principal officers of the troubled league body have kept sealed lips on the financial records of the NPL pending their findings.

However it is not the first time that football fund has gone missing in the country, as $236,000 was allegedly stolen from the safe of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) before a 2010 Fifa World Cup qualifying game against the Black Mambas of Mozambique in 2009.

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