Nigeria Premier League players lament the confused state of the game

Players in the NPL say a lot needs to be done to bring back the lost glory of the game in the country
Confusion reigns supreme in the round leather game in the country. Everything is upside down and nobody is sure what will happen next as the sorry state of the Nigeria Premier League continues to defer solutions.
The authorities seem not ready to take the bull by the horns and do the right things.

Players are not paid as and when due. Sign on fees are never paid on time. Players ply their trade in the worst conditions and nobody is ready to turn around the fortunes of the players in the League.

The confused state of the Nigeria Premier League has attracted the attention of the players who bemoaned the sorry stituation.

Majority of the players who spoke with noted that a lot would need to be done to make sure that the situation is put under control.

At the end of last season, Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi said all the issues in the league must be resolved before another season will begin.

But not one of the issues have been resolved and the players are not happy that their careers may be jeopardised.

Sharks' Victor Ezeji said it is bad that the people that are supposed to be serious with the welfare of players are not bothered in any way.

"We don't know when the league will start. Last season did not end on a good note. A lot of the clubs are still owing their players and nobody knows when they will get their money," said Ezeji.

"But I must confess that the people who should be in the fight to liberate the players are not doing anything.

"Now everything is in a bad state and we hear some people are fighting to be in control of some things in our football in Nigeria.

"But I am in support of what the Minister of Sports has done by saying that except all the issues are resolved and settled, the league will not start.

"No player I am sure is ready to go through hell again when last season, salaries, sign on fees and allowances were not paid as and when due.

"These clubs must be made to be accountable to the players because the players make up the team and without us there can't be any club that will exist.

"We cannot be suffering on the pitch and some people are so happy spending the money that should have been used to take care of the players," Ezeji fumed.

The Nigeria Premier League fixed its congress for November 17 but the Nigeria Football Federation cancelled it because they feel the issues that the Sports Minister said must be resolved have not be taken care of.

The NPL also said the tentative date for the start of the league would be December 1st. That date is also not feasible because there is so much confusion everywhere and nobody is sure when the issues in the league will be resolved that will now make the League to start.

Heartland captain, Chinedu Efugh painted another gloomy picture of the state of things in the league.

"We are not sure of what is happening again. In one day, you will hear three different news about what is happening and that will make you begin to think that there is so much to be done.

"We are preparing in Owerri, but you can see from the body language of the players that their state of mind is not right.

"We are just training, but nobody in Nigeria knows when the league will start. Heartland will represent Nigeria in the [Caf] Confederation Cup next year. Imagine the club not playing any competitive game until next year when the tournament will start.

"There is no way the team will be in good shape to face the challenges of the competition. You will not expect Heartland to do well. I am sure Rangers, Kano Pillars and Lobi Stars will also suffer the same fate.

"The league cannot start this year and these clubs will feel the pain of some people not doing their work very well.

"In almost all the countries of the world, the football season is on, but in Nigeria we don't know if there will be any football game played this season.

"The authorities in charge must find a way of resolving these issues. But in tackling the problems, they must take into cognisance the problems faced by the players."

The Nigeria Premier League have not been able to enforce the rules guiding the League and the clubs have been unable to meet up with the financial demands of the players.

Isiaka Olawale who plays for Dolphins declares that the welfare of the players in the league should be the bedrock of any league that is worth its salt.

"I keep asking why our players cannot enjoy the reward for their labour? It is not fair at all that players are meant to go through a lot in Nigeria. In whatever issues they want to resolve, the welfare of the players must be paramount.We are losing time because the league will not start when it is supposed to," he said.

Enugu Rangers striker Ifeanyi Edeh confessed that Nigerian players based at home are almost losing their composure because of what is happening.

"We don't know what is happening again. We just train and go back home, waiting to hear the next instruction from our officials. We need urgent answers to all the problems affecting  the league because we cannot continue like this," Edeh summed up.

Nobody can say when the league will start. Clubs are not ready to to pay the money owed their players, administration of the league has fallen to a low ebb, there is no title sponsor for the league.

Problems everywhere, but there is hope that the Nigeria Premier League can return to its past glory that will be the envy of all. For that to happen, the Nigeria Premier League would need urgent cleansing in all its ramifications.