The Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) has called on the Federal Government to take more than a cursory interest in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) with a view to supporting it towards delivering on its potentials; which would in turn create employment, boost the economy and generate revenue.
This call is coming on the backdrop of the 2019/2020 NPFL season billed to kick-off today (Sunday November 3) without any hope of television broadcast for the games.
SWAN strongly believes that the NPFL needs support and upliftment now, than ever, particularly, with live broadcast.
“It is therefore imperative for the federal government to direct its thought to the league and support the development of an industry that can effectively contribute to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Football leagues across the world have grown into big industries, impacting on the economic, social and cultural life of the people and, ours should not be different,” SwAN stated in a release signed by its scribe Jude Opara.
The Release stressed that it is no longer tenable for critical stakeholders to just sit and watch while foreign leagues continue to colonise the interest of Nigerian soccer fans, enjoy their patronage and even the sponsorship and promotion of our corporate organisations who rely on them to penetrate our local population.
“It’s regrettable that since Supersport pulled out of the broadcast deal with the LMC, the league has been off air for two years. As it were, a new season is kicking off without any assurance of the matches being on TV. If the league is not broadcast, it may not attract brand sponsorships and the clubs won’t grow; meaning that the league cannot secure its full potentials.”
SWAN is also compelled to enlist the federal government to emulate the South African example where the Premier Soccer league has been kept alive and made available to the citizenry, via South Africa Broadcasting Corporation which was empowered by government to purchase broadcast right for the league, thereby reducing attraction to capital flights in the consumption and corporate promotion of foreign football products.
SWAN recalls that the English Premier league that is admired today was established with a grant of £150m to the founding clubs for upgrade of facilities.
“We need to learn from these examples towards nation building. We suggest that the federal government should, as a matter of urgency, bring the Ministries of Industry and Investment; Information and Culture as well as Youth and Sports Development to interface with a view to building capacity, and strengthening the broadcast sector to play its role in the sustenance and growth of the league.”