By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON, Kaduna.
The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) has heaped plaudits on the League Management Company (LMC), organizers of the Nigeria Professional Football League, all the participating Clubs, the media as well as football fans for a highly –successful 2015/2016 Season that came to an end on Sunday.
NFF President Amaju Pinnick, who personally presented the League trophy to Enugu Rangers FC captain Okey Odita at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium (now nicknamed The Cathedral) as the Flying Antelopes won their first title in 32 years, lauded the efforts of the LMC and indeed all stakeholders in ensuring a fabulous season.
“It is no gainsaying that it has been a fabulous season in the Nigeria Professional Football League. Everyone has contributed immensely: the LMC, all the Clubs, fans, the media and other stakeholders of the League. We must also not forget the contribution of Supersport Television.
“I look back and there are so many things to be happy about in the just –concluded season. I was there in Kano during the opening match of the season in which Kano Pillars defeated Enugu Rangers with a late goal. Football has returned to Maiduguri – which people thought would not be possible – and we have had a number of fascinating Friday Night matches. I can boldly say this League Season has gone well with huge improvements all round and we had the best team winning.
“A few matches were troubled by security breaches and some referees did not cover themselves in glory. But at the end, it was a season to be proud of and we can only put in place reforms to make things better in the coming season.”
On refereeing, Pinnick elected to elaborate on what the NFF will be doing to improve things.
“We have been doing a lot to improve refereeing, including taking dozens of them to the United Kingdom for capacity enhancement, as well as hosting FIFA Member Association courses to ensure our referees get better.
“Now, the NFF leadership has identified the shortcomings and will initiate positive reforms of the refereeing management process to ensure more effectiveness and improved professional delivery.”
The first reform, according to the NFF President, which is aimed at guaranteeing independence and strict compliance to the rules, would be to divide referee management into three professional and independent committees: Training, Grading and Appointment; Assessment and; Performance Review and Compliance, including sanctions for erring referees.
“The last two committees (Assessment and Performance Review and Compliance) would be headed by independent and credible personalities to ensure fairness and prompt actions,” explained Pinnick.
The NFF supremo gave kudos to LMC Chairman Shehu Dikko, who is also the NFF 2nd Vice President, stating that the latter’s work ethic and vision alongside LMC CEO Nduka Irabor and the COO Salihu Abubakar have taken the NPFL to new heights.
“It is not only in the work they do that they have excelled; they have also been there for the other Leagues: NNL, NWFL and the NLO. The solidarity payments they have made to these Leagues as well as the Players’ Union have helped to stabilize the football structure.”
The 2015/2016 NPFL Season was brought to a glorious end on Sunday with one of the nation’s biggest traditional Clubs, Enugu Rangers winning the League trophy for the first time in 32 years, after amassing 63 points from their 36 matches.
By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON, Kaduna.