The League Management Company [LMC] has set December 1 as the resumption date for the 2018/2019 Nigerian Professional Football League [NPFL] season according to a letter sent to all NPFL clubs by Chief Operating Officer of the LMC, Salihu Abubakar.
According to a programme of events attached to the letter sent by Abubakar, the 2018/2019 season will feature an abridged format with participating clubs divided into two groups – A and B – and run for 22 Match-Days between December to May with a two week mid-season break between 16 February and 2 March for the 2019 general elections. Regular matches for the season will end on 12 May after which qualifying teams will go into play-offs between 13 and 31 May to determine League Champions.
League fixtures for the new season will be drawn on 21 November on the day of the Annual General Meeting [AGM] of the NPFL, which also heralds the start of footballing activities for the season with the Super Cup clash between Lobi Stars and Rangers International of Enugu at the Stephen Keshi stadium, Asaba.
The window for clubs to regularise player licenses and registration will be between 26 and 30 November after which the league season kicks off proper with clubs in Group A taking to the field on 1 December and Group B clubs taking their first taste of the season on 2 December.
It will be recalled that an emergency meeting was called between the LMC, the 20 NPFL clubs that participated in the 2017/2018 season and the Nigerian Football Federation [NFF] executive committee in the wake of the legal wrangling between Amaju Pinnick and Chris Giwa over the leadership of the NFF which led to an indefinite suspension of the league and a huge backlog of fixtures which threw into doubt the league’s ability to meet CAF’s deadline for the submission of representatives for inter-club competitions.
Arising from that meeting were a number of resolutions chief of which was that the 2017/2018 NPFL season was “deemed concluded at Match Day 24” with Lobi Stars who were top of the league at that point selected as the country’s representatives to the CAF Champions League. It was also decided that no clubs would be relegated and that four teams would be promoted to the NPFL from the second-tier Nigerian National League [NNL] bring to 24 the number of clubs that would be participating in the 2018/2019 NPFL season.
It was also decided that the 24 teams would be split into two groups of 12 teams with three teams to be relegated from both groups at the end of the 2018/2019 season. With the six teams to be relegated at the end of the upcoming season and two teams to be promoted from the NNL, the 2019/2020 season would see the league revert to its normal 20 team format.