BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE 

Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Club Owners at the League Management Company (LMC) Annual General Meeting (AGM) unanimously approved a resolution to strengthen the enforcement of some provisions of the NPFL Framework and Rules in order to elevate the quality of the league organization and its perception by the public.

The resolution was reached at the end of deliberations on technical review of the 2018/19 season with most of the delegates agreeing that there should be improvement in areas of pitch quality, dressing rooms, fair play and fans education.

Shehu Dikko, the Chairman of the LMC had while opening the AGM noted that the called meeting is in compliance with the LMC Governing Structure and to brief the clubs on commercial projections and technical plans for the new season which began on November 3, 2019.

During a short part of the meeting which was open to the Media, Dikko announced that, “We would be presenting a commercial proposition to the AGM Delegates for consideration and ratification.

“It will show that we have achieved a milestone in our commercial drive and what we have on the table is better than what we had before and where we were coming from” Dikko said, adding, “we have achieved a capacity through this new partnership to run a very viable business concern”.

He said the full detail of the commercial offer would be unveiled at a public event with the partners after the AGM has ratified the pre-contract agreement already signed.

“We had to delay the start of the 2019/20 season because we have been locked in negotiations with our partners, Next TV. We have struggled financially in the last two seasons as a result of the withdrawal of our former partners and it is common knowledge that television right generates the biggest revenue for football”, the LMC Chairman told the AGM.

Dikko explained that the LMC had always recognized the need to take the league to the homes of Nigerians through television, noting “this explained the extensive negotiations we had with FOX Networks Group that was very enthusiastic to partner with us until the deal was scuttled by the series of disruptions in football administration in 2018 among others.

Speaking further on the potentials of the proposed deal, Dikko said, “We have lost some sponsors while potential sponsors lost interest in discussions because we did not have television but now, a lot of opportunities are open before us as we now have that which was the main interest of the Corporate Businesses we have been targeting”.

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He said the new deal has been structured to secure the future financial base of the NPFL and commended the NPFL Clubs for their show of understanding and support while the challenges prevailed.

Further in the briefing to the AGM Delegates, the LMC Chairman explained that the new proposed transaction structure is hinged mainly on four planks which include an initial investment in the NPFL operations and production of NPFL matches and events.

The others are sales of NPFL contents produced to ensure it generates revenue across all platforms in Nigeria, Africa and globally including the Next TV Over The Top (OTT) platforms and fourthly, the commercialization of NPFL Rights to generate sufficient revenue through the optimization of NPFL earnings.

The AGM meeting unanimously approved the transaction.

Speaking on behalf of the clubs, Felix Anyansi Agwu, Chairman of Enyimba International and board member of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) commended the tenacity of the LMC Board in pursuing commercially viable deals for the club and urged them not to relent

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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE 

Heartland will give its best as the matches comes, Fidelis Ilechukwu "Working One" pleaded with fans and critics of Heartland FC of Owerri not to give up on the team just yet, loosing the first game of  the new season at home should be a morale booster and build our confidence this season. 
Church owned side, Mountain of Fire & Miracles Ministries (MFM) FC produced a shocker when they claimed a 0-1 away win at Heartland FC in Okigwe. 
Olukoya Boys had struggled for the most part of pre-season games after the loss of their energetic and result oriented head coach Fidelis Ilechukwu, Lagos based side pulled the chestnut out of the fire in stunning fashion against their former boss.
Clement Ogwu, a player signed by Ilechukwu for MFM last season from little known Glorious Day Academy headed home the game’s only goal on the 39th minute from a long throw by right back Adeyinka Najeem. 

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Speaking with media, Ilechukwu express emotions experienced not in a state of well-being “It was sad for me and my players as they gave their best but at the end MFM won. But its football, you win some and lose some.

"If we have converted all our chances, it would have been a different ball game, but we have picked the positives from the game and we move ahead, this should build our confidence for the season, 'he enthused.

“We are still in the early stage of the season, so not the time to entertain any fear or look down on team, we have a set target and I want to assure our fans that we’ll get it right, but they must first forget about the loss to MFM, we still have 37 games to go, this is my humble passionate appeal to them, they must please keep faith in the team supporting us always.”

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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE

Cecilia Nku’s second minute penalty was all Rivers Angels needed to win the 2019 Nigeria Women Premier League title against a very determined Confluence Queens side.

In a well attended final which had the Sports minister Sunday Dare and Women affairs minister Mrs Pauline Tallen in attendance, the final lived up to its expectation as the fans were thrilled with entertaining football from both sides.

Precious Christopher briefly gave Confluence Queens hope in the 14th minute when her penalty hit the woodwork after Amaechi Ojini handled the ball inside the 18yard box.

The victory gave the Edwin Okon’s side their seventh title having won the league last in 2016.

An emotional Edwin Okon said after the game that he knew his side wouldn’t concede and scoring an early goal was important for them.

” We worked hard for this and deserve to win, Confluence Queens gave us a lot of fight, but we remained resolute and defended well. This victory means a lot to me and my players. He concluded.


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Meanwhile Whyte Ogbonda who have failed to win Rivers Angels in three consecutive finals was unhappy with the result, but promised to keep fighting.

” I am not happy with the result today, I thought we deserve a better result from what we got. We were unlucky to lose a penalty when we indeed needed to have scored.

"Wonderful goalkeeping displayed by Chidinma Nnadozie also helped the team, that solo drive from Adoo Yina before unleashing a powerful shot saved beautifully by Nnadozie would have changed the complexion of the game.

We go back to Lokoja with a heavy heart and definitely we won’t relent from this success we have recorded.

The winner of the 2019 Nigeria Women Premier League will go home with a sum of N3m and a one week tour to Spain as part of the Laliga/NWFL partnership deal.

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BY:OLATOYE OLAWALE
Olukoya Boys produced the biggest surprise of opening day of 2019/20 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season when they claimed a 0-1 away win in Okigwe. But that would not diminish Plateau United’s impressive 3-1 win over Lobi Stars in a fixture that had a former Governor of Plateau State on the stands cheering the Jos side.
MFM FC had struggled for the most part of the pre-season after the loss of their energetic and industrious head coach Fidelis Ilechukwu, but the Lagos based side pulled the chestnut out of the fire in stunning fashion against their former boss.
Clement Ogwu, a player signed by Ilechukwu for MFM last season from little known Glorious Day Academy headed home the game’s only goal on the 39th minute from a corner kick by right back Adeyinka Najeem. The goal indeed tore the form guide into shreds as all three previous NPFL encounters involving both sides had ended in home wins.
It was a double-header clash between Delta and Akwa-Ibom states on Sunday with Delta Force hosting NPFL debutants Akwa Starlets in Asaba while Warri Wolves, on their return to the big league hosted Akwa United at the Warri Township Stadium.
Both games ended in entertaining 1-1 draws. Samuel Amadi scored the first goal of the new season as his 2nd minute strike gave Wolves the lead but last season’s joint topscorer Mfon Udoh continued from where he left off on the 28th minute to restore parity for John Obuh’s Akwa United. Neither side could find a winner in the second half.
At the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Starlets stunned their hosts on the 50th minute when Isaac George gave them the lead but experienced substitute Bala Yahuza rescued a point for Mangut Mbwas’ side twenty minutes from time.

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Plateau United laid down the marker for the new season with an emphatic 3-1 dispatch of Lobi Stars in a North Central Derby at the New Jos City Stadium on Sunday. Abdu Maikaba’s United raced to a two-goal lead courtesy of Nerot Silas’ 17th minute strike and a Solomon Kwambe own-goal but Lobi halfed the deficit on the 32nd minute through a Sikiru Alimi penalty.
Winger Amos Gyang Danladi however scored his side’s third on the 67th minute to send the 2017 league winners to the summit of the league table after Match Day One.
Abia Warriors also started the season on a bright note when a brace by former Heartland star Jimoh Oni earned them a routine 2-0 win over Katsina United at the Umuahia Township stadium.
In Nnewi, FC Ifeanyiubah edged newly promoted Adamawa United 1-0 courtesy of a spectacular strike by Samuel Kalu. Striker Chibuike Ezeh also missed a second half penalty which could have widened the scoreline for the Anambra Warriors.
Wikki Tourists of Bauchi were the only team that came from a goal down to win on Sunday, a feat they achieved in their 2-1 success over newly promoted Jigawa Golden Stars at their adopted home ground in Gombe.
Lala Abdullahi gave Jigawa a shock lead at the Pantami Stadium on the quarter hour mark but two second half goals from Saidu Abubakar and team captain Mohammed Idris Guda gave Ibrahim Garba’s men the maximum points.
In Kano, former champions Kano Pillars were held to a 0-0 draw by Rivers United at the Sani Abacha Stadium. The game which was played behind closed doors as Pillars continue to serve punishment from their fans’ behaviour in Lagos at the end of last season saw the Sai Masu Gida side miss a number of scoring chances.
Two other games; Enyimba vs Nasarawa United and Rangers vs Sunshine Stars were rescheduled due to Enyimba and Rangers’ CAF Confederation Cup games on Sunday. The two former champions won their respective games and booked their places in the group stage of the continental competition.
NPFL MatchDay 1 Results
Abia Warriors 2-0 Katsina United
Heartland 0-1 MFM
Warri Wolves 1-1 Akwa United
Delta Force 1-1 Akwa Starlets
Kano Pillars 0-0 River United
Plateau United 3-1 Lobi Stars
Wikki Tourists 2-1 Jigawa Golden Stars
FC IfeanyiUbah 1-0 Adamawa United
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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE

Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries FC head coach Tony Bolus has praised his charges after their 1-0 win over Heartland FC in a Matchday One fixture of the 2019/20 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season decided at the Okigwe Stadium in Owerri on Sunday.

The Olukoya Boys gave a good account of themselves against the Naze Millionaires as they claimed an opening day win courtesy of a 39th minute header from Clement Ogwu when he connected a long throw-in from Najeem Olayinka.

Fidelis Ilechukwu's men created lots of goal-scoring chances shortly after MFM FC's goal but the Lagos-based team goalkeeper Folarin Abayomi denied the hosts with breathtaking saves. 

His bright display in between the sticks earned him the man-of the-match award.
After the crucial victory Bolus appreciated his boys for their brilliant performance.

“I need to appreciate my boys for their effort today and for keeping and playing to instructions. They maintained the tempo of the game from the beginning to the end of the game. They were able to keep their cool and the ball and I appreciate their effort a lot and I believe it's going to continue till the end of the season," he said.


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The former Giwa FC manager also talked about the lapses he noticed during the match and promised to make amendment before his team’s next league game against FC  Ifeanyiubah.

“There were lapses in the team despite the victory so we will go back home to the drawing board and right our wrongs.

"We had opportunities to be two to three goals up but we failed to make them count although they had theirs also but our goalkeeper was great in goal today. All the same we still need to work on the team to prepare for FC Ifeanyiubah,” he concluded.


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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare in line with his quest for inclusiveness in sports, on Sunday watched the final match of the Nigeria Women Premier League (NWPL) between Rivers Angels and Confluence Queens.

Rivers Angels defeated newcomers Confluence Queens by a lone goal courtesy of Cecilia Nku in the second minute of the match to emerge winners, smiling home with the tournament's N3m prize money as well as a trip  to Spain courtesy a La Liga partnership with the NWPL.

Fielding questions from journalists after the match, Mr. Dare praised the skills displayed by the female footballers and promised more support for female football in the country.

"The question should be, with this level of professional skills we have seen on display today, what would the Ministry do more to help them? I am impressed by what I have seen today, we have seen female professional football at its best, we've seen the exhibition of talents, we know some of our footballers are headed for the Professional League outside of this country, all I can say is that the Ministry would partner with the Federation, we will also try to see that we get them sponsorship to support them to do better."

Speaking on the Nigeria professional football league which just commenced, the Minister expressed his delight with the commencement of the domestic league after two false starts adding that the issues bedevilling the league will be dealt with.

"We will meet with all the key stakeholders before end of November to start to draw a strategic plan on how to improve the domestic league.


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Like I said earlier, it is very critical, it is the engine room of our football development, that's where we produce our professional players that can go abroad, so we are going to pay close attention working with the NFF,  the club owners and the referees and coaches to isolate the issues and deal with them."
He also reiterated  his Ministry's commitment to supporting other sports.

"We started out by making a declaration to support other sports. I have watched Football games, I have watched Badminton games, I have watched Handball games, I have been to Basketball games, I have also been to Athletics.

That shows our clear direction, it signposts where we are headed and in the coming months  in terms of resources we will make sure we provide resources, and support through private funding. We will support virtually every critical sports, about 11 of them where this country has competitive edge, particularly I have the Olympics in sight Tokyo 2020".

The Minister who earlier held two high level side meetings geared towards greater Youth and Sports  Development, before arriving to watching the final match of the NWPL at the Agege Stadium, headed out immediately  to watch the another final match, this  time beach soccer of the Copa Lagos competition.

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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE

Both teams sought a third place finish in this year’s edition of the Nigerian Women Football league after being dumped by Rivers Angel and Confluence queens who are both looking forward to be crowned Champions.

Bayelsa Queens wanted the spot(third place) after falling in the hands of Rivers Angels on penalties and they showed class by Mauling Adamawa queens 4-0 at the Agege Stadium.
Bayelsa Queens got the early lead as Sandra Akaajime brought down Anjor Mary in the 18-yard boss with referee signalling for a penalty in which Blessing Illivieda converted in the 10th minute.
Rofiat Sule doubled the lead from a rebound after benefiting from an Anjor Mary effort which Obindinma failed to keep on the 34th minute.

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The halftime ended that way with Adamawa Queens disappointed with their display.
Tessy Biahwo compounded their misery as she added the third on the 56th minute clock with Obindinma yet the Villain again.
Joy Jerry made the score sheet for the Bayelsa stated owned football club on the 88th minute, the fourth goal of the encounter to seal a third place finish.
Bayelsa queens will go away with a million Naira cash prize for their third place win as disclosed by the Chairperson of the Nigerian Women football league,Aisha Falode.

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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE

The Nigeria Football Federation has issued a stern warning to its members, and particularly match officials, to guard against acts and practices that could be seen to encourage match fixing and match manipulation in any way or form in the coming football season.

With the 2019/2020 Nigeria Professional Football League season due to kick off on Sunday, 3rd November, the NFF said it encourages match officials and other workers in football to recognize, resist and report any act, practice or tendency that may appear, remotely or directly, to seek to compromise the integrity of any given football match at any point in time.

“It is important that NFF members, including Members of Congress, stakeholders, referees, match commissioners and referee assessors, and indeed everyone involved in the game, resist and report all acts that may seek to compromise the integrity of a game.

The NFF will monitor actions and inaction within the perspectives of errors in decisions, which could be classified as: 1) Error of Judgment 2) Error of Knowledge and 3) Deliberate Act.

“The NFF is on a wavelength of zero tolerance for match fixing and match manipulation in any way. The Federation will come down hard on anyone involved in any practice that may seek to bring the game to disrepute,” Barrister Okey Obi, head of the NFF Integrity Unit, told media.


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Obi assured that the Federation would not hesitate to visit acts and practices that are capable of bringing the game to disrepute with the heaviest sanctions possible, no matter whose ox is gored.

“The eyes of FIFA and CAF are now very, very sharp with regards to match fixing and match manipulation matters. Apart from that, the various security agencies in the land are now taking keen interest in what happens during football matches, a development the NFF is happy about. The NFF Integrity Unit is now working in conjunction with the security agencies to monitor all matches.

“It will no longer be business as usual. Members of NFF especially match officials are warned against going to match venues to front for teams.”

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