Licensed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in 2013 to operate the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), the League Management Company (LMC) has worked in concert with stakeholders to reform the League, rekindle the passion of Nigerians to take pride in the League and to transform the League into a viable and exciting commercial enterprise. The LMC has a vision to make the NPFL the preferred destination for West African football players.
Under the LMC in the last four football seasons, the NPFL has been changing from a league with lots of negative baggage to a product that has been receiving favorable and positive appraisals from stakeholders cutting across the clubs, the players, the media, corporate partners and the fans.
There has been a steady progress since the LMC commenced operations with the organization of four full League seasons that has been generally acknowledged as the most exciting and rancor free in recent history. The LMC have also within this period rekindled corporate interest in the League which translated to title rights and broadcast rights partnerships with Globacom Limited and SuperSport respectively from the outset and most recently the Nigeria Breweries PLC with their flagship beer product, STAR. The NPFL also attracted strategic partners from within and outside Nigeria in relationships that will serve to grow revenue streams as well as enhance operational and technical capacity of league and club management.
The reform instituted by the LMC has been tailored to ensure compliance to global best practices which hitherto has been largely observed in breach by the Clubs and selectively enforced by previous operators of the League. These global best practices are contained in the FIFA Club Licensing Regulation which came into effect in 2008 and has been adopted by CAF and NFF. The LMC adopted the provisions of the regulations to reposition Clubs in the League to enable them take advantage of all commercial and technical opportunities that will lead to increased affinity with the people and a reduction in government funding.
Club Licensing Regulation is the basic working document through which the different members of the football family aim to promote common principles in the world of football such as sporting values, transparency in the finances, ownership and control of clubs and the credibility and integrity of club competition.
One of the present realities that the LMC sought to address was the perennial lack of funding for the clubs. Whilst governments at the state level have for years borne the burden of financing the activities of the clubs, it became increasingly manifest that this is neither sustainable nor good for the professional administration of the clubs in line with the NFF Club Licensing Regulation. With the current economic realities of dwindling states’ revenue, the LMC preached that the time has come to encourage a gradual divestment of government from clubs while encouraging the community and businesses to subscribe to club ownership. This has the twin effect of providing adequate funding for the clubs and giving the communities a direct stake in their darling clubs.
Pursuant to this, the LMC entered a strategic partnership with NASD OTC Securities Exchange to facilitate the enlistment of NPFL Clubs for public subscription to generate needed funding for the clubs and also ensure appropriate corporate governance in the management of the club.
A successful execution of this strategic development plan will resolve the notorious cases of Club indebtedness to players, poor infrastructure and competitive welfare packages. The LMC has sought to encourage state government owners of clubs to give the clubs the necessary assistance of making public offers for stakes in the Club and constituting a proper board of directors in line with the Nigeria Company and Allied Matters Act. The LMC went further to provide models for Community Ownership of Clubs designed from extensive study of successful cases in Europe and Africa. So far, eight clubs were shortlisted for the pilot project out of which four has received the consent of their state governments to implement the enlistment.
A major breakthrough in strategic relationship was that forged by the LMC with the Spanish League, LaLiga, one of the world’s biggest football leagues. It has already yielded huge dividends in its first year with the LMC presenting an NPFL All-Star team that toured Spain in 2016 to participate in an international world club championship tournament. An NPFL player, Ezekiel Bassey of Enyimba International was recently transferred to LaLiga club, FC Barcelona thanks to this working partnership between the NPFL and LaLiga.
With a focus beyond the 90 minutes of football on the pitch, the LMC has sought to exploit all commercial opportunities around the football to create a thriving industry that will spin jobs in retail vending, media, telecommunication and kits manufacturing to list a few.
From inheriting a league with zero financial base, offering no reward for excellence and imposing on clubs to pay match officials indemnities, the LMC has turned around the financial fortunes of the NPFL to that which paid out a basic award of N50m per club for participation, writes off indemnities for match officials and declaring a savings of over N450m in the 2015/16 season.
Identifying the challenge of winning back the hearts and mind of Nigerians from European leagues, the LMC has consistently worked with the clubs to create engagement platforms aimed at bringing back the fans to the stands, to the television channels and second screen (media devices and platforms). The LMC social media activities have attracted over 70, 000 followers on Twitter and the Facebook page reaching over 20, 000 followers weekly. The NPFL website, www.npfl.ng attracts over 10 million global visitors monthly.
The LMC is owned by the NFF and the participating Clubs. In implementing the FIFA prescribed Club Licensing Regulation, only clubs which meet the requirements and remain in the Nigeria Professional Football League at the start of the season shall retain shares in the LMC.