Director of football, Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) FC of Ilorin, Alloy Chukwuemeka, has called for private ownership of football clubs in Nigeria saying such decision could revive the dwindling fortune of Nigerian football league and restore the lost glory of the league as witnessed in the 1970s and 1980s.
Nigerians recall with nostalgia privately-run clubs like Abiola Babes/Concord FC owned by the late Chief MKO Abiola, Iwuanyanwu Nationale by Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Stationery Stores of Lagos by late Chief Israel Adebajo, Udoji United by Chief Oscar Udoji among others that took Nigerian football by storm with scintillating performances coupled with players’ welfare, an era which till date remained the most glorious in the Nigeria league.
Chukwuemeka, who is also the Secretary, Club Owners Association of Nigeria said over reliance on government funding by club officials will continue to be the albatross of the league as the football world has grown beyond government fund. He said allowing private and corporate organizations take over running of football will attract sponsorship to the league and give room to the players to be treated professionally.
He said, “It is time for us to allow private bodies to take full charge of the league and have the players treated professionally. That is the issue before all of us the stakeholders in the football industry. What is obtainable in Nigeria is alien to other football nations of the world; it is a peculiar situation in Nigeria. We have been trying much as we can to see ways of devising measures or strategies to see that government stays way from sponsorship and control of football clubs because it is not a normal situation giving by what is obtainable outside.”
“On our own, we have tried to recommend some ways that the government can divest the shares of these clubs to prominent individuals and those who are passionate about football and also corporate bodies within their vicinity so that they can come in and from there we will take a step further to make most of our clubs to become community-owned football clubs,” he added.