Controversy trails NFF’s decision to ‘accept’ NNL’s plans for 28-team NPFL

[FILE PHOTO] NFF President, Amaju Pinnick.

Unless the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) stops the Nigeria National League’s (Second level league) plan to elevate eight teams to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), the country’s football could become the laughing stock of the international community, a member of the Club Owners Association has said.

The 2018/2019 NPFL is scheduled to kick off next month.

At the beginning of last season, the Nigeria National League (NNL) ruled that the two top teams in each group of the lower league would contest in a play-off to produce four teams that would be promoted to the elite NPFL.

According to the plan, the top two finishers in each of the two groups in each conference (North A1, A2 and South B1, B2) would meet to produce two teams each that would move to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

All the teams accepted the plan before the season kicked off. But since the NNL season ended about three weeks ago, the league body has not been able to organise the Super Eight play-off owing to many issues, including outstanding disciplinary matters before the body.

A source close to the NNL told The Guardian yesterday that it had become necessary to ‘move on’ because of the limited time left before the 2018/2019 season kicks off and the need to allow teams to plan their programme.

He said the NPFL rule granted promoted teams minimum of one month to prepare for the Premier League, adding if that would be followed “it therefore means that a quick solution must be found to the Super Eight issue.”

The 2018/2019 NPFL season has been abridged with two zones of 10 teams each, but adding eight more teams from the NNL means every zone will have 14 teams.

Rising from its executive meeting in Asaba on Tuesday, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said it was waiting for the NNL’s decision on the Super Eight and number of teams to be promoted to decide how the NJPFL will run next season.

Part of the communiqué from the NFF meeting reads: “Following a presentation by the Chairman of the Nigeria National League (NNL), Chidi Ofo Okenwa, and a response by Mallam Shehu Dikko (LMC Chairman) to the effect that the issue of relegation/promotion between NNL and NPFL was a matter for the clubs to propose, it was resolved that the NNL board should be encouraged to hold a meeting with all NNL Clubs, after which an expanded meeting involving the NPFL and some NFF members (to be chaired by the NFF first Vice President) would take place, to determine the way forward for the promotion/relegation of teams in the NNL for the year.

“Board empowered the president to approve whatever propositions/decisions are reached at the expanded meeting for a way forward for the League.”

The member of the Club owners Association, who pleaded anonymity, told The Guardian that accepting a 28-team league would ridicule the whole essence of the competition.

He said, “You will ecall that our league ended abruptly with Lobi Stars declared winners even when we still had more than four matches to play.

“No team was demoted against the rule of the game all over the world. The LMC accepted a 24-team NPFL next season to accommodate the four teams originally billed for promotion from the NNL.

“Now, we want to increase the competiotion to 24 teams when we don’t have the resources to manage a 20-team league. This is absurd.”

Already, the NNL has been divided into two zones with the original 20 teams in groups A and B with codes.

The NNL Congress will meet this weekend to decide what becomes of the Super Eight, as well as the format the next season will adopt.

Source: G Sport