Former Super Eagles Goalkeepers Trainer, Ike Shorunmu, has called on individuals and private bodies intending to own football clubs in Nigeria to join forces with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the League Management Company (LMC) to build a formidable league for the country.
Speaking in the wake of the clamour by some private investors to start their own league competition to be known as Nigeria Private Investors League (NPIFL) later this year, Shorunmu advised the parties involved to drop the move and team up with the LMC to revamp the dwindling Nigerian league.
He said Nigeria’s league in the 7Os up to 1990s was respected across Africa because private individuals and companies owned almost all the top clubs.
Shorunmu, who pointed out that running a parallel league would jeopardise the development of Nigerian Football, called on stakeholders to rally round in protecting the foundation of the NPFL.
The former Super Eagles goalkeeper, however, charged the LMC to open its doors for people with fresh initiatives to help lift the standard of the game.
“It is wrong for some private investors to initiate the move to start a private club league. When I heard it last week, I was surprised.
“For the Nigerian league to get to the required international standard, private bodies need to join the NPFL and work with LMC. The ideas they want to use in the private league should be brought to the main league.
“In the past, the Nigerian league had more respect and viewership because of a lot of private clubs like Iwuanyanwu Nationale, Abiola Babes FC, Jasper United, Julius Berger, NEPA FC, and Stationary Stores, among others owned by private companies and well meaning individuals.
“The economy was good at that time. Corruption was not there. The owners’ target was to build a solid football culture in Nigeria.
“Things started going wrong with Nigerian league when most of the private clubs were left the system. Government owned clubs are now the ones mostly playing in the league,” he said.The former Enyimba of Aba coach added, “At that point, corruption and mismanagement of funds starting affecting the development of the NPFL.
“I laugh when government club officials attend meetings with private club owners under the body of Nigeria Club Owners Association. You will get different ideas and interests in such meetings.
“Now that more private sector operators are interested in joining the fold, they should work out modalities with LMC and the government owned clubs so that both parties will be on same page at their meetings.
“I have not seen anywhere in the world where a parallel league is administered successfully. The NPIFL should bring in their idea in organisation, players welfare and others to LMC and reach amicable agreement the league. Their unity will also create more jobs and quality initiatives.”