All over the world, football is regarded and treated as a business which is ultimately expected to make a lot of profit. The football industry is generally a money-spinning industry that is why we have leagues like the English Premier League generating a revenue of almost $10 Billion.
These revenue is usually generated through 3 main streams which include:
- Match-Day Gate Receipts
- Broadcasting Revenue(Domestic and International) and
- Commercial Revenue (Sponsorship and Merchandise)
Looking at the major sources of income of Football leagues and teams worldwide we can then understand the root of the problems of why the Nigerian Football League System is not generating as much revenue as it ought to. One point that readily comes to mind as to why there is a low revenue generation is that as of now the league is not attractive!
An average football-loving Nigerian can name about 10 teams in the English Premier League without stress, adorn various Club Jersey and even go on ‘pilgrimage’ to the stadium of their favourite teams in Europe but hardly will you find the same passion for the Nigerian League and its teams. What then could be the causes of this?
Firstly, the quality of play in the Nigerian League is dismal, compared to what obtains in most European leagues which most Nigerians are more disposed to. There is no free flow of the game and it is usually more of the “Kick and follow” style. In this regards, there is no denying that Nigeria is blessed with abundant raw talent who needs to be nurtured. What is then advised is that more attention should be placed on the training of the players right from infancy on the technical aspects of the game. This in the long run will translate into a more attractive game play in our league matches.
Also, the quality of the sport infrastructures is not encouraging and inviting. As I said earlier, you find people going to famous stadia all over the world for example the Emirates Stadium and the San Siro in Italy. These stadia not only have beautiful playing surfaces, they also have side attractions like museums and other things that can make a tour memorable. Same cannot be said of most stadia across the country. I am sure that having world class stadia like the Nest of Champions, Akwa Ibom State across the nation could further spur the interest of the general public as regards visiting stadia.
Furthermore, another paramount issue with the Nigerian Football League system is the Player’s welfare. This issue has been really neglected to the extent that it results in players going on strike because their wages and allowances have not been paid. Recently the players of Glo Premier League sides Dolphins Football Club and Sharks Football Club embarked on a 7 day strike action resulting from non-payment of their salaries. These issues concerning welfare is paramount among the reasons why our league players do not spare any thought before moving out of the country to play in other leagues (even Vietnamese and Sudanese Leagues!).
Also the conduct of some of the fans that currently go to the stadia is totally unacceptable. You see touts using narcotics and acting violently, unabated. These automatically discourages an average Nigerian from going to the stadia because he feels his safety is not guaranteed.
The officiating in the Leagues should also be improved for there to be any improvement in the interest people currently have in the league. The referees and match officials should be properly trained in order to prevent bizarre manipulations we usually encounter in our leagues like the match between Plateau United Feeders Team and Akurba FC which ended 79-0!
To make the Nigerian League system more lucrative and attractive, a holistic approach must be taken and it is pertinent that some of these suggestions should be carried out for there to be any progress.
Firstly, efforts should be made to divest government interest in the teams. Currently only about 10% of the teams in the league are privately owned. Privatization of the teams to willing and capable individuals and organisations will go a long way as to reduce the burden off the shoulder off the Government who definitely cannot make the teams a priority as there are other more pressing issues of governance.
These private individuals and organisations must be ready to make huge investment in order to eventually generate profit. These investments must be channelled especially into the areas of infrastructure, branding and marketing as well as player welfare.
Experienced and qualified football administrators must also be brought into all areas of the league for the smooth running of the league and also assistance could be sought from established leagues like the English Premier League and the Bundeliga to help with personnel who in training our own football administrators on the international best practices that could make our football league system more attractive.
It is no doubt that Nigerians know quality and we love quality. Also it is a known fact that we also support our own. If the Nigerian Football Leagues can match the standard of those leagues Nigerians are more attracted to, in the long run we will have no other option than to grow to love our league.
Tayo Fashesin is a well-grounded Legal Practitioner who focuses on Sport Law, Media/Entertainment and Intellectual Property.