Since the 2020-2021 league season ended, the NPFL is yet to return after almost three months. This is partly because of the inability of the league to get sponsors who can bankroll the league season and beyond. In order to make the league viable, the Federal Government can assist the league body.
First and foremost, the status of sports needs to change in the country. In various parts of the world, sports is business while in Nigeria it is not really the same. Governments own most of the clubs in the top tier of the league and there is no clear-cut business model for these clubs. When the Federal Government designates sports as business, the fortunes of the league will change as the administrators will become more business-minded.
Just like states got bailout funds to pay salaries, the NFF can also get this kind of fund from the government with a defined business model over a period of 5 to 10 years. The Government may make it easier for the NFF to get a loan from the CBN that could help them reposition the league for a 10-year period. During this time, the league bodies will improve the system and attract investors.
When they get this money, they may repay the loan over a period as stipulated in the contract. For the sake of transparency, an audit firm may be assigned to audit the finances of the NFF or the league bodies during that period and the NFF can repay a particular amount each year.
Part of the contract could be for clubs to adopt a model where they are expected to perform a community service each year by taking up a project in their constituency, with the interests they are to pay from the loan and this would help to make impact in the club’s immediate community or State.
When this is done, it helps to make the league viable as a business sector with benefits to the society. This will also help to reduce fan trouble and violence at match centers as the clubs and their administrators would not allow anyone to ruin their business and the Government at State level would look beyond politics to appoint real administrators who can make profit for the club.
This has a potential of creating thousands of jobs, directly and indirectly. Most of the funds that comes to football are from TV rights. The Government can give the various media organizations who want to partner with the league incentives and an enabling environment.
When the games are on TV with quality broadcasting, it would attract investors into the league and the profits will trickle down to workers in the league.
Companies who are willing to invest in the league can get tax waivers from the Government and this will motivate the corporate bodies to invest more in the league and create more jobs. With a good plan over a period of time, the league can be better and football will become a big business sector in the country.
Bethel Kalu is a passionate sports writer whose love for writing began as a young boy. He has been writing sports for 7 years has over 500 articles written by him.
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