Those 19 Stadiums
By Paul Bassey
November 06, 2020
Will it work? Are you sure the LMC
will not change its mind? These are
questions that followed the decision of the League Management Company
(LMC) approving ONLY 13 venues for the 2020/
2021 Nigeria Professional Football League.
Questions because before now the LMC had
barked about the need to play the league on
credible television friendly surfaces, but had
always reneged at the last minute, succumbing
to politically induced "home advantage pressure.
Continental competitions refer, where CAF
will ban a stadium, declare it "not fit for competitions, yet the LMC will approve same for
the domestic league.
This year, a "new normal
is on the cards with the honourable minister of
youth and sports development leading the
Before the Covid-19 pandemic that
shortcircuited football all over the world, the
LMC was in the market, shopping for credible
sponsors for the Nigeria professional league.
First on the agenda was NEXT TV, who predictably came out with the resolution that certain stadiums could NOT host live broadcasts
Even after the collapse of the NEXT Contract, the new bride Redstrike also insisted on
"...stadiums that will not only give credit to the
league, but will help in advertising the Nigeria
Given past experiences, followers of the round
leather game in this part of the world have kept
their fingers crossed, while the teams waited
for the academic "stadium inspection that has
often come to nought.
Suddenly out of the blues, a bombshell "In
line with CAF circular of 26th July 2020 which
was forwarded to you and the need to meet
up with the requirements of high quality Television production by our new partners, the
LMC has reviewed various reports submitted on the state of our stadia across the country.
The stadia have been broadly grouped into
two: A - approved for 2020/2021 NPFL season and B - requiring upgrade before approval.
those in category B, we have
made notes on the areas/repairs needed to be done before recertification. Please
find attached tables for your
guidance and further necessary action.
Yes, the LMC did not have to do "another inspection, the LMC knows
as the back of its hand, those venues that it
has been "condoning, venues without
floodlights (Not only for night matches, but
for declining visibility) dressing rooms, running water, sanitary facilities, signages, designated entry and exit points, numbered seats,
flawless playing turf (grass or artificial) sick bay, substitute benches, media facilities... the
list is endless.
When the "blacklisted list was perused,
the Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium Enugu was a
surprise inclusion. Two seasons ago, Lobi
Stars of Makurdi were banned to Enugu by
CAF, where it played its CAF Champions league matches.
Enugu stadium also got the nod of CAF as
host of the CAF Confederation Cup matches
involving Enugu Rangers.
This time around, change of fortunes. The
Aper Aku Stadium Makurdi has gotten the
nod of the LMC, while the Enugu State government has been told to.
The LMC release
said the category B venues have a chance of
been considered within the season IF they
can work on anomalies so highlighted.
How do you within one season, two seasons, remodel a whole stadium? Umuahia,
home of Abia Warriors and the Ifeanyi Ubah
Stadium refer. I am more than convinced that
this time around, there is no going back.
sports minister as earlier highlighted had
found it proper to send a letter to all the state
governors. Entitled Re enforcement of Licensing/Financial Regulations and Funding for
State-owned Football Club in it, the minister urged governors to help in making the
league more competitive, lucrative and align
with top leagues around the world.
He urged them to help in guaranteeing a
flawless Club Licensing regime and requested
for an audience through the chairman of the
Governors Forum, His Excellency Kayode
Fayemi, to address them on "the way forward for a better Professional football league.
"We are totally committed to turn the fortunes of our league into a worthy business
enterprise, the minister said. It should be
noted, however, that of the approved stadiums, five are not home grounds of the 20
league teams. It stands to reason, therefore
that Teslim Balogun Stadium (MFM?) Samuel
Ogbemudia Stadium Benin, Stephen Keshi
Stadium Asaba (Warri Wolves?) Gombe
Township Stadium Patani and Ahmadu Bello
Stadium in Kaduna will be available to receive and host those teams that are now
Bye bye home advantage?
Till next week, by His grace