Eleven privately-run clubs have informed the Nigeria National League (NNL) of their “unanimously agreed” decision “to pull out of the 2020/2021 league with effect from Monday 22nd March, 2021” if the league fails to adequately address grievances including “unprecedented poor officiating” which they say has “brought the integrity of the league into disrepute” and rendered their “hard-earned resources useless”.
The clubs also reminded the NNL Board of the “urgent need to release the 50% balance of our 2019/2020 season Covid-19 palliatives from the Nigeria National Football League to all the Clubs” to help them deal with “the excruciating impact of Covid-19” on their finances.
Writing under the aegis of the “NNL PRIVATE FOOTBALL CLUB OWNERS ASSOCIATION,” the eleven clubs including include Delta Force FC, Abia Comets FC, Apex Krane FC, Holy Arrows FC, Dynamite Force FC, J. Atete FC, Oyah Sports FC, FC One Rockets, Giants Brillars FC, Godosky FC, Calabar Rovers FC and Aklosendi FC expressed deep concerns over the direction of the league which has been beleaguered by a host of issues since the current season started on 13 February.
The NNL failed to conclude the 2019 season and had been on hiatus for more than a year due to factors including a lack of finances and what the clubs described in their letter of 18 March 2021 as “a myriad of issues connected to poor officiating by Referees appointed to officiate most of the matches”.
Those issues regarding the standard of officiating “is so far worse than the inconclusive 2019/2020 season which was stopped as a result of complaints by clubs of bad officiating” the clubs claimed in the letter which was address to the COO of the NNL .
“It is imperative to state that we observed with dismay that the current NNL season has not improved as Referees continue to officiate with impunity rendering our hard-earned resources useless,” their letter stated.
The “unprecedented bad officiating” appeared to be especially targeted at privately owned clubs the letter said, claiming the conduct of referees “has brought the integrity of the league into disrepute”.
“We also observed that Referees appointment appears to be defective,” the cubs claimed, and offered to “further buttress” their claims with instances of “actual happenings in the field of play”.
The clubs also expressed suspicions that the draws for grouping teams for the current season was “improper” and rigged against privately-owned clubs.
“Contrary to the internationally acceptable standard and best practices in conducting draws which is to conduct draws in an open and transparent manner involving all stakeholders, the 2020/2021 draws were conducted by the Secretariat in secrecy. This action of the secretariat shows a compromise in the procedure and that has played out in the current league,” they wrote.
“It is in view of the foregoing reasons that the under listed clubs have unanimously agreed to pull out of the 2020/2021 league with effect from Monday 22nd March, 2021 if nothing is done to address the issues raised in this letter,” they concluded.