The chairman of the Interim Management Committee (IMC), Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye has said football is big business and should not be used for election campaigns, thesportsbay.com reports.
He made this known during the draws for the 2022–23 abridged Nigeria Professional Football League on Wednesday.
According to him, the clubs should be able to compete for money and that can only happen if football is taken seriously as a big business.
“We should see football as a commercial business and not as a corporate social responsibility (CSR). Football is not for election campaigns but big business. So what we want is that there should be enough money in the league so that clubs can compete for money,” he said.
The former Director-General of the defunct National Sports Commission said he seeks to see the local players earning nothing less than N1m in the next few seasons.
“Our target is better playing environment for our players and better welfare package for footballers so that in the next few seasons, the least paid player will be earning N1m and if that happens, our players will not be going to countries where they are fighting war,” he said.
He also informed that IMC will ensure that the season is hitch free of violence, thuggery and other vices that can bring the game to disrepute and any club that breaks the law through acts of violence will not be fined N500,000.00 as was witnessed in the past, but three points will be deducted from the team.
“We have secured sponsors for the NPFL and we are glad to announce that the the team that will emerge as winners of the league will earn N100m prize money,” Hon. Elegbeleye told the media while delivering his speech at the NPFL draw on Wednesday in Abuja.
“This is a new beginning in NPFL. The prize money for last season was N50m but this time, it has been increased by 100% and that is very commendable.
“We also have it in good authority that the winner of the NPFL last season has not been paid the prize money of N50m. This will never happen under this dispensation.
“Clubs have been informed to shun every act of violence during the course of the league. Any club which engages in violent conduct will not be sanctioned with N500,000.00 as was the case in the past, but three points will be deducted as punishment.
“We know what it means to have three points deducted from points already earned by a club in the league. We want the best for the NPFL this season in line with the mandate given to the IMC by the NFF,” he said.
Meanwhile, Seventeen club owners were conspicuously absent during the draws for the forthcoming 2022/23 abridged Nigeria Professional Football League.
It will be noted that the club owners have been at loggerheads with the Interim Management Committee (IMC) over the format of the league with only three of them showing up.
The IMC with the full support of the Nigeria Football Federation has proposed an abridged league, while the club owners are agitating for a normal season which they said will terminate in July, as against the May that the abridged league will end.
Despite the controversy, the IMC conducted the draws with champions Rivers United to begin its title defence with a tricky home fixture against Abia Warriors.
The draws for the 2022/23 NPFL Abridged League was held on Wednesday in Abuja, with the season to kickoff on January 8th, 2023 and end May.
The 20 NPFL clubs were drawn in two groups A and B, 10 for each and not the usual North and South, as both groups had a mix of teams irrespective of the zones.
Last season runners up, Plateau United are in a tough Group A alongside Kwara United, Nasarawa United, Gombe United, Enyimba, Akwa United, Shooting Stars, Remo Stars and the newly promoted duo of El-Kanemi Warriors and Bendel Insurance.
Rivers United are in Group B with Niger Tornadoes, Doma United, Wikki Tourists, Lobi Stars, Abia Warriors, Dakkada FC, Rangers, Sunshine Stars and their derby rivals Bayelsa United.
The IMC announced that a Super 6 (three top teams from Group A and B) will be played to determine the eventual champion of the season.
The NPFL Champion us expected to earn a whooping 100 million Naira for winning the title while each club will get N10m as participation fees.
Group A (Jan 8th 2023)
Nasarawa Utd vs Enyimba
Akwa Utd vs Bendel Insurance
Plateau Utd vs Shooting Stars
Kwara Utd vs Gombe Utd
Remo Stars s El Kanemi Warriors
Bayelsa Utd vs Dakkada
Wikki Tourists vs Niger Tornadoes
Doma Utd vs Sunshine Stars
Rivers Utd vs Lobi Stars
Enugu Rangers vs Abia Warriors