The year was 2018, the month was July, just after the FIFA World Cup, crisis rocked the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF and the Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL, was abruptly ended with Lobi Stars of Markurdi declared Nigeria’s CAF Champions League representative and nominal champions.
However, the big one was that, no team got relegated from the 2018 NPFL season and the total team to participate in the 2019 League season increased by four, make that 24 teams.
Huge problems for the LMC right??… Not to worry, the League Management Company led by Shehu Dikko after a meeting with club owners agreed that the 2019 League season will be in an abridge league format, Group A and B in order to meet up with CAF Club competition deadlines and align with the European Football calendar of August/May for the 2019/20 Season.
A Championship playoff was to come after the conclusion of the regular season and thus Enyimba were crowned champions of Nigeria for a record eighth time having won four of their five matches at the playoff also known as Super Six in Agege, Lagos.
With the success recorded in the just concluded season, how about if the LMC consider having the league in an abridge format.
Yes, 24 teams will no longer be involved as the number of teams moves back to 20 teams but putting into consideration the Nigeria system, one is tempted to have the league played in an abridge setting.
Now, the Nigerian system means a whole lot here, we blame the LMC for every single thing that goes wrong in the league while neglecting what might have been if we have a working system in Nigeria; all sectors working at premium.
Playing the league in an abridge format will ensure the sustainability of teams; teams will have less travel to make in order to attend games. Imagine an MFM FC traveling to Maiduguri to play a match against El Kanemi warriors, hectic journey right??…. The abridge league version will however give leverage for teams to play in their region thereby having a short distance trip to make so as to honour games.
How about if we look into players fatigue??… The bane last season wasn’t really the distance covered by players on their travels but the numbers of jam packed fixtures. Players play on a Sunday/Wednesday/Sunday timing which taking a clearer look into only works in the European leagues where there is a functioning system.
With the numbers of teams set to be twenty, an abridge version with 10 teams in each group will only mean a Sunday/Sunday match days for players. Less distance on the road, enough rest before the next match day, enough time perhaps for managers to also thinker their tactics.
Then, the Championship playoff. I only saw the last match day of the just concluded playoff and judging by what I saw plus the trend of the playoff on social media, one can easily conclude that it was a great football fiesta at the Agege Township Stadium – don’t remind me of Rabiu Ali and Kano Pillars please – the six best teams in the land converged, every match day had cracking fixtures, goals aplenty and then, worthy champions in Enyimba.
The championship playoff can be moved by the LMC every season to various states. This would also help some states that are yet to taste NPFL football to know what it really is to have league games in your vicinity. It would also see a huge climax to the NPFL every season if the abridge league comes in place.
Enough said, there are no define ways to playing a league, no reason to always go by the European league format.
Truth is, we need to learn how to do things in our best interest and choose what works best for us even beyond football organisation but as a nation.