LMC to sponsor bill on Nigerians’ investment in foreign clubs, says Dikko
The League Management Company (LMC), which is saddled with the organization and regulation of club football in the country, will soon sponsor a bill at the National Assembly to compel Nigerian firms and individual to first invest in the country’s football before financing clubs or leagues overseas.
The LMC also says it would continue to fashion out ways to encourage fans to invest in clubs in their community as it is done in some other countries.
Speaking in Lagos at the weekend, LMC Chairman, Shehu Dikko, described as unfortunate the rush by Nigerians to identify with foreign clubs and leagues when the country’s teams are crying for such support.
Telecommunications companies, Globacom and Etisalat, have huge investments in Manchester United and Barcelona of Spain respectively, Chi Limited, makers of Chivita range of products, are also in partnership with Manchester United, while Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea, among others have endorsements from Nigerian companies. Recently, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, said he was interested in buying Arsenal of England at the right price.
Dikko said, “We are engaging some of our top businessmen and companies to see how they can invest in Nigerian clubs because even those foreigners investing in European leagues, including Abramovich, the Qatari group the Glaziers and the others, have saturated their home sports sector with investments. They have franchises in their countries before venturing into other countries.
“Abramovich gives the Russian Federation a substantial amount of money annually and still pays the national team coach’s salary.
“That is one of the issues we discussed at the World Council of Leagues recently. It is imperative for individuals and companies to first develop their home country before venturing outside their country.
“We believe that it is to everybody’s interest that our people invest in Nigeria first. A company like Chivita, which makes all its money here, has not done anything in Nigeria. Rather, they are spending billions of pounds to sponsor Manchester United.
“That is rather unfortunate and we are going to sponsor a bill that will compel Nigerian outfits to show what they have done at home before venturing outside the country. That way, we will create a good path for all the leagues, including the women, the Nationwide and National League, to follow.”
Dikko also explained the LMC’s campaign to get fans to invest in their local clubs, saying community ownership of clubs would ensure stability in the operations of the teams.
“It is different from an individual owning a team because unlike the clubs would survive the exit of any individual. What we need is a community of people who are contributing a little bit. We have a paper, a proposition on community ownership, which shows that if half of Enyimba or Kano Pillars’ fans contributing about N2, 000 each for a year, the clubs would get enough money to take care of its activities.
“Traditional clubs like 3SC, Rangers, Stationery Stores, Bendel Insurance, among others, can exist independent of government because they have a huge fan base. The government should not have more than 40 per cent ownership of any club even when it owns the facilities. It is a gradual process, which we hope the people will key into.”