Heartland FC goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa says calls by players of the club for months of salaries arrears to be offset doesn’t mean they’re on the verge of mutiny but only reflects the challenges they face.
The Naze Millionaires have been embroiled in an on running saga around unpaid wages for players and backroom staff since last season.
Although reports just before the start of the 2020-21 Nigeria Professional Football League season suggested the Imo State government which owns the club had offset about four months out of a reported seven-month salary backlog, dissatisfaction from within the players’ camp have intensified in recent days.
Matters have been made worse by a disastrous start to the season that has seen Heartland lose both their opening games – away to Katsina United and at home to Nasarawa United – with suggestions that a lack of motivation owing to the unpaid wages was behind the losses.
After reports surfaced that players of the club were on the verge of mutiny and are actively considering downing tools, Ezenwa has spoken up and denied that his teammates have refused to play while they’re still being owed.
The Super Eagles goalkeeper said while the players are facing harrowing times in their personal lives from not being paid, at no time did they resolve to down tools.
The former Katsina United goalkeeper reiterated his call for the state government to do right by the players to enable them give their best for the club.
“Only what the players are asking for, is their wages, because most of them are having serious challenges they’re facing in their immediate and extended families,” Ezenwa said.
“So, they just need funds from the government which is their weekly wages for them to curtail all these problems that is making them not to concentrate in their careers.
“As you can see, how can a player come and say he doesn’t want to play for a state that is paying him monthly salary?
“A player cannot say that. We played against Katsina while being owed, coming to play in a home game against Nassarawa United. It’s to tell you that we have love for this team. But the only challenges we’re facing is because of what players are going through in their various homes, and it’s affecting the players.
“So what we are begging is for government to come to our aid to offset these bills and I think everybody will be fine. There is no time any player made mention that they’re not going to play for the management or the government.
“Anybody that said that, it’s a big lie.”