Coach Fanny Amun, led Nigeria to win the Japan 1993 U-17 FIFA World Cup. He was also the on-ground Coach for the Atlanta 1996 Olympics team and prepared the way for Bonfere Jo. He is the former Nigeria Football Association, NFA, Secretary-General and a seasoned Football Administrator.
In this interview, Amun outlined some of the challenges faced by the Nigerian Professional Football League, NPFL, ranging from lack of sponsorship, age discrepancies, inadequate securities, as well as other financial indiscipline in the league. He also emphasised on the reasons why the NPFL cannot compete with Premiership, Bundesliga La Liga amongst others.
Is the NPFL viable to achieve the maximum patronage from sponsors both local and international?
YES, it is evident in the previous relationship propelled the pioneer Chairman/NFA Vice-Chairman, Late Chief Oyuki Obaseki of blessed memory.
The rough times followed with his exit and the previous NPFL board couldn’t sustain the relationship. Ironically the present NPFL chairman was the same person that achieved the sponsorship deals as the marketing consultant to the same entity that he heads now.
So the rightful person that should answer this question remains the Chairman of the League Management Company (LMC), Mallam Shehu Dikko.
As the former scribe of the NFA, what is your position on the state of NPFL current management?
The league is set out to his present professional status by former NFA Chairman Alh Ibrahim Galadima and l was the Secretary-General as at then (January 2005) at the glasshouse, which was in accordance and guided by the then NFA rules/regulations as amended under that same decree that is yet to be repealed.
(NFF does not exist) Under Galadima the NPFL had full autonomy and at a time they wanted to assume the roles of the federation and refused to be regulated.
Politics of power-play started and some of the same people plotted the exit of the credible executive board of Alh Ibrahim Galadima by creating crises which FIFA eventually intervened.
One turn they said deserved another. With the same trouble set into the NFF now confirmed the positions of the Galadima led board, but it has never been the same till date.
Why is responsible for the difficulties faced by the league which includes less sponsorship, as well as inadequate securities to protect football fans?
The truth has not been said over the reasons behind the strange relationship with one of the Nigeria Telecom giant (Globacom).
Like I said earlier that Dikko the present LMC chairman was the same person that was in charge of the marketing company though against his preferred (MTN) who can speak on these issues.
Security is that of the state host association and it is to be coordinated by the LMC with officials ensuring adequate restrictions in line with the laydown rules and regulations.
The issues have been violations by states venue managers to be insincere with facts if what they declare was adequate for the safety of life and properties during and after every game.
So the LMC should answer your question. At the end of every season seminars for match officials were most relevant to the management at the expense of but not limited to training/retraining of march/teams officials and a total review of match reports in a view to improving subsequent season. Millions of nairas have been allocated to teams with a resulting displacement of priorities.
On sponsorship, who is responsible for seeking sponsorship for clubs in the NPFL? Is it the League management board or clubs owner themselves?
On club sponsorship, it is a known fact that sports in Nigeria is dependent on government patronage which is under social Corporate responsibility (CSR) and only less than three clubs are under private individuals for one sort of mileage or the other.
If the truth must be told the politics of the participation has further discouraged the few individuals to throw in the towel for losing matches, not for the right decisions but sentiments that people consider as match-fixing.
It is an important area where the league management board should clear doubt to re-assure the clubs that the best is yet to come in a bid to curb the wrongdoing. The brand that makes the LMC is the respective clubs and either of them are independent in their functions.
Annually, the NPFL generate funds and as well allocated a bonus to teams as a subsidy to compliment the annual budget and same from the NFA/NFF through sponsorship income.
Like l said that government fund clubs and those under private clubs get funding from individual sponsors. Why have the clubs has not translated into a product like their foreign counterparts remains a serious challenge.
Do Nigerian clubs get grants from TV rights? If yes, how much is expected of an average club, who is responsible for sharing?
The much that l know from every deal attained by the LMC apart from administrative cost at the secretariat, clubs receive capital allocations and nothing has stopped additional revenue if the opportunity is created so long that it is not a competing brand in nature.
What are league organisers in Nigeria doing wrongly that is also impeding its development?
Governance is an ongoing process. They must administer the league in accordance with the regulations and adhered strictly in a view to improve and make amends to the grey areas that might compromise the integrity which will make the league lose its value.
If they make laws and through actions violate the same rules by shifting the goal post in the course of the game the issues remain.
For once in the history of sports the current pandemic of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the post should be shifted to get back in track, but conflicting interest will compromise decisions that could have correct the wrongs.
During your days as the NFA scribe, what efforts did you put to formalize recording of players age in the Nigeria Premier league?
l will always state it clear that Nigeria players have never for once falsified age rather, there is what we call age discrepancy. Neither the federation, club sides and youth teams have ever falsified any age till date.
Even those discussing age cheat issues just assume the position of wronging the right (NFF/NPFL/CLUB/FA, YOUTH TEAMS ORGANISER). It might be interesting to know if there are any records of a parent pretesting age discrepancies of his child’s inclusion in a team.
So players are usually registered by forms and spaces are made for signatories consciously and no observations on any sort of discrepancies till date not that l know.
Do you think there is financial transparency in the management of the NPLs?
There are some issues that l should avoid responding to in the public domain like yours hence l cannot. There are no perfect transactions in the World.
Little issues are cooked and others may come through errors in all this a guilty conscience is that who fears accusations. Any matter that requires to be cleared once his conscience is clear avoiding the process of facing the issues can only be delayed but it will end someday.
The only perfect being is God.
How can Nigerian clubs be rebranded to attract foreign players?
The internet has made the world a global village, so the present framework can’t give a level playground for sponsors to embrace the Nigeria league, coupled with the million questions on the alleged credibilities of the principal officer (Pardon my word) and it will take the desired change to soften those mind to consider their thought of investing again.
Sponsors want to know how every kobo is spent hence the marketing people out there are the once to convinced them. The provision is on their budget captured under (CSR) corporate social responsibility in the annual budget but the coast is not clear with the universal crises. There is no value for money at the moment.
Do you see railway means of transportation as a solution?
Out there in the civilised nations, traffics are noticed in games areas. Railway will make it easier for fans and teams to travel for games to observe games