Congestion, crisis, delay force NPFL to end in Lobi’s favour

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Photo: LMC Media
Photo: LMC Media

The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season has been brought to a halt with 14 rounds of matches to go amid a governance crisis, delay in resuming the championship and apparent fixture congestion.

According to the League Management Company (LMC) which oversees the running of the NPFL, the 20 clubs agreed “that the 2017/2018 season of the NPFL is deemed concluded and the team at the top of the standings – Lobi Stars shall be the representative in the CAF Champions League.”

But Lobi Stars were not declared the champions of the season.

The clubs also assented that no club will be relegated from the top division following the decision which has now been tagged ‘the doctrine of necessity.’

The Nigerian top-flight schedule ran into a cul-de-sac just after the World Cup when it was billed to restart after going on break for the tournament in Russia, a decision some journalists and followers of the league feel was unnecessary even when the calendar had been released at the start of the season.

The situation has forced a decision to come from different options before the clubs and LMC in order to meet up with CAF’s new calendar and submission of representatives for the Champions League which has its deadline in mid-October this year.

The clubs also took into consideration that six weeks will be insufficient to cram 14 matchdays into and conclude the season with the AITEO Cup still yet to kickoff.

“The meeting (among LMC, the clubs and NFF) was held against the background of the adverse circumstances in the administration of football in the country, which resulted in the postponement of the resumption of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) and resulting in huge fixture congestion for both league and cup competitions. This situation made it practically impossible to meet up with the deadline for the submission of the list of the country’s representatives to CAF Inter-Club Competitions and also the need to commence the 2019 season earnest so as to meet with the CAF objective to change the football calendar to AUGUST/MAY from May 2019.

“Upon consideration of different options (5 possible options were presented), it was unanimously agreed by the 20 NPFL Clubs, that the 2017/2018 season of the NPFL is deemed concluded and the team at the top of the standings – Lobi Stars shall be the representative in the CAF Champions League for 2019 Session starting Nov 2018 to May 2019.

“No team shall be relegated from the NPFL for 2018 Season,” said LMC in a statement issued on Friday.

The 2018/19 NPFL season now billed to start in November will have 24 clubs, pooled into two groups of 12 each after four clubs will be promoted from the second tier, the Nigeria National League (NNL).

At the end of next season, six clubs, three each from both groups, are expected to be relegated to “allow the NPFL to revert to its normal structure of 20 teams as from the 2019/2020 season.”

Despite this decision by the clubs and LMC, it still remains subject to “approval of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).”

© The Predictor NG

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