How Some Clubs Are Sabotaging Attempts To Develop Nigerian football

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From Oluwayemi Omolagba

Nigeria Football Leagues have witnessed some level of development in the last few years and it is no doubt that the organising bodies are trying their best to return our leagues to the summit of African club football.

Rome wasn’t built in a day so they say, but a thousand miles journey begins with a step.

The IMC, NNL and other bodies regulating our major leagues have done well to an extent although there is more to be done if we are to be among the best not just in Africa but the world.

The clubs on their part are doing everything possible to bring the league closer to the fans via Livestream of games, live reports from the match venues, pictures and videos that update the followers at home on what is happening on and off the field of play.

The social media presence of some of these clubs have helped individuals like myself, a local football reporter/journalist to get firsthand information that makes reportage swift and accurate.

In all of these growing development, there is a section of the country which seems to be left behind in publicity through the social media and that is the North.

From the Nigeria Premier Football League to the Nigeria National League, clubs in the Northern region have done little or nothing to improve their media department, an action I termed as an attempt to sabotage the developmental plans of the leagues governing bodies.

Takeaway the NPFL clubs from the region who to me are still not doing enough with the media compared to their counterparts from other part of the nation, one can hardly point to a club from the Northern region in the NNL with the required “media presence”. Aside City FC of Abuja, and Kogi United, 2021 was the last time some of these clubs from the North post any updates on the social media. Either about their clubs or matches played, nothing of such.

While making my findings as to why they are inactive in their media department I reached out to a member of the Organising body (name withheld) and he said to me: “Those clubs are not serious. Whenever we ask about their media team they simply say they don’t have money to run it, yet they travel to match venues with delegates to distrupt things.”

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A team can sponsor thugs to intimidate match officials but can’t sponsor one or two people to handle their media departments.

It is a big shame that clubs like, EFCC, NAF, DMD, Yobe DS, Malumfashi, FWC Champions, Mighty Jets, ABS, Hypebuzz, Mailantarki Care, Katsina Utd, Green Berets, Jigawa GS, Zamfara Utd, Sokoto United, Police Machine, and Adamawa Utd all from the Northern Conference still see their clubs as mere recreational agenda.

They should borrow a leaf from Ikorodu City who stream all of the matches via their social media handles. Let them learn from Vandrezzer FC who pioneer the change we see today in the football media in the country.

Media is an integral part of sports development and its high time the NNL set a standard for all clubs playing in the league with heavy penalty for those who fail to adhere.

What is a football club without a Media Manager, how do they intend to market their players, make profit and also get recognition?

It time these clubs understood that football is more than reaction, it is a lucrative business. Agents and Scouts no longer have the time to move from one match venue to the other, they will see the best of your players via the social media you neglected.

An NNL club in Lagos recently sold 3 of its players to clubs in Spain, when you check their social media handle, you see a club that understands the business called football.

Remo Stars, Sporting Lagos, Abeokuta Stormers, Ijebu United, Rovers FC to mention a few are some of the clubs to emulate.

We know the names of all the players in Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid and became their fans not because we do go to their stadiums to watch them play but because we could see all they do via the social world.

In as much as I will love to charge the NNL and other bodies in-charge of our leagues to put the games on TV, the clubs should as well be on top of their game by streaming live their matches. This will serve as publicity and marketing strategy for them

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Of recent, Head of Operation of the NLO Shola Ogunnowo emphasied on ‘the need for clubs to show off their media department because of the importance the play in building the league’.

Take a look at England, the media made EPL what it is today and if the leagues in Nigeria really wants to be up there among the best in Africa, there should be more investment in terms of capacity and funding of the media.

The league body also should understand that to attract investors there is a need for publicity which only the media can give. Nobody wants to sponsor a league you can’t see on TV or with low presence on social media. The target of every investor is to reach a large audience and football is one of the fastest way to get that done.

Many of the Sport Bet companies in Nigeria today uses skit makers like Sabinus, Mr Macaroni, Taaoma, Broda Shagi, Lasisi Elenu, Brain Jotter, MC Lively and many others to advertise their products, giving out millions of naira for endorsement. Our league cannot attract them because as far as the media is concerned, we are still in the 60s.

In the NNL of recent, violence, encroachment of pitches by fans, threats to lives of officials, good goals disallowed, bad officiating were all alleged to have happened in some of the games but there were no video evidences prove those claims. Take for instance the game between Kano Pillars and Sokoto United, Yobe DS vs DMD, good goals were said to have been disallowed but no evidences to backup the claims.

Let’s not even talk about security issues in most of the venues used for the league games. Our leagues should have advanced more than the way it is today.

Lack of fund most of them say but at times I wonder what someone or government without a strong financial backing is doing in football.

The football business is big one that comes with a lot of profits but you first must invest. If you don’t have the money for investment then you have no business running a football club.

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Drastic changes need to be taken if our league must grow. This is not a time to play politics with what is fetching millions of people fortunes all over the world.

As reporetd by This Day Newspaper on 11th of May, 2023, Premier League football contributed £7.6billion to the UK economy during the pandemic-hit 2019/20 season.

Football will not only improve the live of individuals but can also turnaround the fortune of a nation. In a country like ours with over 200 million people where more than 50 million actively and passionately follow football, it amazes me why we still run our league the way we do.

Our youths buy jerseys of European clubs. Some even go as far as buying directly from the stores of those European clubs which cost nothing lesser than N50, 000 shipping inclusive but majority of them don’t even know the names of our clubs.

Post on any social media platform today on who is the best between Critisano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and see how the youths will troop flaming with stats to backup their claims as to whom they think is better, many who don’t even have International Passport to travel out of the country let alone go watch them play live, but they know more about them than those who have even watched them play live through the media.

Until we understand the power of the media and the role it has played in football development across the globe before we begin to do the rigth thing.

Once again, those who have no money to invest have no business running a football club.

Its time to turn a new leaf!

By Oluwayemi Omolagba

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