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The dissolution of the NFL board is a welcome development as the clubs try to salvage the slow descent into nothingness that has characterised football development in the country

Babajide Alaka | Deputy Editor

When David Dein, former Vice Chairman of Arsenal FC, came to Nigeria in September to attend the Soccerex Expo, he related the story of how the English Premier League (EPL) was born.

He told a story of how he was almost beaten up at one meeting when he brought up the idea that the number of substitutions allowed in a game should be raised to two – that is unthinkable really but that was how archaic and conservative some of the club chairmen were at that time.

Fast forward to 2012 and the EPL has sold the rights of the league to airlines and cruise ships so that wherever you are – you are able to watch the ‘Best league in the world.’ But it was not always like this.

There is no gainsaying the fact that a country’s football is as good as its football league so when we hear of iconic players going to places like China to play, it is because the Chinese want and have a plan to become a football power-house very soon. Watch that space.

But back to Nigeria and the development where club chairmen decided to boot out the regime of Rumson Baribote on Monday and constituted an interim six-man committee to run the league – a very good decision seeing the league was bogged down with a lot of unpalatable tales of the unexpected.

There is no sponsor for the league, hooliganism is rife across all the centres and referees do not feel safe to make correct decisions and at other times their integrity has been bought over.

The rot is seemingly endless as touts have taken over the stadiums and club administrators are lining their pockets while the players soak garri before playing matches. And the worst part is that fans, so numerous, have now turned their passion to foreign clubs on DSTV.

So this decision could not have come at a better time as history resonates with that decision using the formation and ultimate success of the EPL as the perfect example. The EPL was formed from such a decision in 1991.

Before 1991, and even for some time afterwards, British football was famous for its hooligans and heavy drinking players. The stadiums were death traps and matches were hardly shown on television – sounds almost like the Nigeria Premier League.

This decision should not just be about wresting authority from one clique and transferring to another – it must be about the development of the game from top to bottom knowing that the players are the most important component in the equation.

The mandate for the committee is for the next two months and then a credible election will be organised that will produce a new board to run the affairs of the organisation.

Now that we are here, let us make sure that the right things are done as we may not have this chance again.

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