Former chairman of the defunct Nigeria Premier League (NPL) Victor Baribote has charged the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to pay more attention to the Nigeria National League (NNL), with a view to developing the second-tier league in the country.
According to the former Chairman of Bayelsa United, if properly harnessed, the NNL could be a semblance of the Championship in England in terms of its commercial viability and talents discovery.
The NNL, which is without a sponsor for two years now, has been suspended since December due to paucity of funds to continue the 2019/2020 season, with a maximum of five matches (out of a possible 20) played by some teams.
Baribote, whose club Nembe City previously competed in the NNL, is urging the NFF to channel some of the resources it gets from relevant authorities to the development of the lower leagues because of their importance to the topflight NPFL.
“The (Nigeria) National League used to be the strongest league because everybody will be struggling to survive there to go to the premiership (NPFL), which is the dream of every club,” he noted in an interview facilitated on WhatsApp.
“But you see the NFF, (from) the little I know, have mortgaged the right of the (Nigeria) National League. They cannot go out to look for sponsors because in their sponsorship deal with, I don’t want to mention the body, it is included there.
“And why is Federal Government giving statutory allocation to the NFF? It is to develop football. And if you don’t have a viable league, you cannot have a strong national team.”
The former 2nd Vice President of the NFF added: So, my own is that, for the (Nigeria) National League to be like that of the Nationwide League (EFL Championship), NFF should invest more in those lower leagues. The regulatory body is not to just oversee the national team, but to see how the country’s football will grow.”