By Uche Dozie
Sport Writer, kick442.com-Nigeria
The 2019/2020 season of the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) will be concluded within six to eight weeks of resumption after the coronavirus break.
The decision was reached at a meeting between the Minister of Youth and Sport Development, Sunday Dare and top NFF officials according to a communiqué released by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
The meeting was held via video conference to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on football in Nigeria and to firm up strategies to mitigate the effect of the disruptions and protect the domestic football industry.
The following were resolved in the meeting:
1. The current football season will be concluded within 6-8 weeks of the re-opening of the country and a clear go-ahead by the relevant authorities is obtained to commence football activities.
2.The format to be adopted upon the resumption of football activities regarding the completion of the various Leagues and Cup competition will be determined by the time available, health and security guidelines, as well as decisions by global football authorities on football calendar and international competitions (CAF and FIFA).
3. NFF will constantly review the football calendar as the issues develop and periodically keep stakeholders informed on proposals and plans. The Honourable Minister is working on many channels including but not limited to the setting-up of an Athletes Protection Fund (driven by the private sector) and sourcing for intervention/support funding that could be utilised to support athletes and sports, including the football industry affected by this pandemic.
4. The NFF recognises the need to win back the confidence of partners/sponsors to football and intends to arrange private visits and special programs, and will continue to solicit the support of the Honourable Minister in this regard.
5. The NFF has mandated the Leagues to work to ensure players, coaches and other employees’ salaries are protected and should liaise with club owners to ensure players are paid accordingly.
6. That the domestic league must be protected to ensure its commercial viability is sustained and the competition integrity upheld both in the current circumstances and post COVID-19 pandemic.
7. The NFF would further submit a detailed brief to the Sports and Youth Development Ministry on the issues and the likely support needed to ensure the protection of the football industry as envisaged.
The meeting had in attendance the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Gabriel Aduda, the President, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick, 1st Vice President Seyi Akinwunmi, 2nd Vice President/LMC Chairman Shehu Dikko, Chairman of the NWFL Aisha Falode and NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi.
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