LMC has failed Nigerians, says Paul Bassey
• ‘Sports Ministry not part of NFF/Stakeholders meeting’
The League Management Company (LMC), a body set up by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to manage the nation’s professional football league, has failed on its mandate, the chairman of Akwa United FC, Paul Bassey, has said.
Bassey, a veteran sports journalist and Senior Special Adviser on Sports to Akwa Ibom State Governor, says he was disappointed with the ‘unprofessional and adverse manner’ the LMC is running the affairs of Nigeria Professional Football League.
“If they cannot manage the league, they should give other people the opportunity to try,” Bassey said while speaking in a sports programme on Uyo radio station, Inspiration 105.9FM.
He continues: “In 2018, we had a problem and in 2019, there was another problem. This year, 2020, we are experiencing a bigger problem. If we continue like this, there is no way any investor will want to invest in the Nigerian league.” Bassey said.
In November 2012, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) issued a license to the League Management Company (LMC) to manage and regulate the top tier league for the purpose of organising and promoting it to meet global standards. That was shortly after the collapse of the Nigeria Premier League (NPL).
Bassey explained his stance: “My problem is with the LMC. If you set people together to run a league for you, they must look for investors.
“The problem we have is that for the past three years, clubs are sponsoring themselves to matches home and away. The LMC has not given a kobo to these clubs. That is why I always disagree when people say the government has no business running the league. They say the government should hands-off. But if the government says they are not sponsoring the teams, football will die in Nigeria. If you want to phase government out of the league, it has to be a gradual process.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has denied its involvement in the stakeholders’ meeting convened on Wednesday to find an amicable way of deciding the 2019/2020 season, which was forced to end abruptly the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement yesterday, the ministry said it had directed the NFF to come up with the best possible options to end the league in line with the spirit of fair play and justice.
The statement signed by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr. Gabriel Aduda, read: “Following a virtual meeting presided by the minister on Monday, the ministry directed that an enlarged meeting of the stakeholders should be convened to deliberate, agree and find a way forward and NFF should revert to the Ministry.
“Although the Ministry was invited, it decided to exclude itself to enable the stakeholders to thrash out the critical issues and revert to the Ministry.”
Aduda added: The Ministry awaits the final decision of the meeting communicated to it officially after which it would confer with the necessary authorities to make a final pronouncement on the league.”
He said the final decision on the league would be guided by the COVID-19 protocols and infrastructure, adding that the minister had taken a bold decision by advising the Federal Government to postpone the Edo National Sports Festival earlier scheduled for March 20 to April 1, 2020, due to the pandemic.