By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, kick442.com Nigeria
The General Manager of Shooting Stars Sports Club, 3SC of Ibadan, Rasheed Balogun, has joined the growing list of football stakeholders, kicking against the proposed premature end to the Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL and outright cancelation of the lower leagues.
The astute football administrator said he hopes the proposal before the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, with the idea of no relegation, no promotion, and a fresh start for the Nigeria National League, NNL, and other leagues would be thrown into the trash bin.
The Chairman of the League Management Company, LMC, Shehu Dikko, had said the NPFL winner and continental tourney flag bearers could be decided by a Super Six playoff with Benin as likely venue.
Dikko, who is also the second vice president of the NFF, indicated that there would be no relegation of teams from the NPFL and that fresh starts to the NNL and other lower leagues are likely.
However, Balogun, in his reaction to the proposal, described is as unfair to teams playing in the lower leagues and a plot by relegation-threatened teams to keep their elite league status.
Speaking on Sports Radio, Brila FM website, Ekulekule, as the experienced football manager is fondly called, argued, that the following steps should not be the best option to settle the season, which has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said non-relegation of teams from the NPFL and stopping teams from being promoted from the NNL, would be a disservice to the NNL clubs who have spent so much in preparing for the season and have continued to pay players’ salaries, keeping their teams together in the process.
“As far as I am concerned, I believe no decision has been taken yet. We have stopped playing since December and since then, both private and government-sponsored clubs have been doing everything humanly possible to pay players’ salaries”, he stated.
Continuing, Balogun added. “If they now say the league is canceled who will be responsible for the players’ remunerations till the beginning of the new season?
“Do you know how much we have spent since last season, preparing for this season?, asked the 3SC boss who added that those behind the plot are clubs already rocked to the relegation zone of the NPFL.
Balogun’ s remarks fall in line with that of the duo of Plateau United coach, Abdul Makaiba and his Lobi Stars counterpart, Gbenga Ogunbote, who both see no sense in organising a Super six playoff to decide the winner of the league and slots for next season’s CAF competitions.
However, there are strong indications that the proposal, as stated by Dikko, may not see the light of the day going by the words of the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, that once the Federal Government gives green light for sporting activities to resume, all the leagues would go on.
The 2019-2020 NPFL season was halted in March due to the outbreak of CoronaVirus, COVID-19 pandemic. NNL on the other hand went on Christmas/New Year break since December 2019, and the league is yet to resume before the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic.
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