There is nothing like ‘club owners’ in Nigeria, says Uchegbulam

There is nothing like ‘club owners’ in Nigeria, says Uchegbulam
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The 13 October 1987 meeting at Bashorun MKO Abiola’s house that put an end to “Club Owners” in Nigeria

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

As an offshoot of the meeting the president of the Nigeria Football Federation, Ibrahim Gusau had with representatives of clubs in the top echelon of the Nigerian league, veteran football administrator, Amanze Uchegbulam has declared that the references to the attendees of the meeting as ‘club owners’ is an aberration.

In a chat with the Sports Village Square, the former senior vice president of the NFF remarked that those who attended the meeting are better addressed as ‘club managers’ and not club owners.

The argument is that none of them own any club as most clubs at the top league in Nigeria are owned and run by  government.

For instance in the season that ended in July, of the 20 NPFL clubs, only two are not owned by state governments.

The two exceptions are the Kunle Soname-owned Remo Stars and the Mountain of Fire and Miracle church owned MFM Football Club.

Following this, the representatives of the other clubs can not lay claim to being club owners but representatives of state governments or managers of such club.

It was in the 1980s that truly club owners existed in Nigeria when there were preponderance of privately and corporately ran clubs.  

At the time, Bashorun MKO Abiola ran three football clubs – notably the Abiola Babes, Concord FC and ITT. Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu had the Iwuanyanwu Nationale while  Chief Adeseun Ogundoyin owned Femo Scorpions once captained by Nigeria legendary goalkeeper, Peter Rufai.

There were private enterprise ran clubs like Julius Berger, Leventis United among others that can truly lay claims to have owners.

But that era came to an end when on 13 October 1987, the 12 privately owned clubs in Nigeria under the name “ Association of Proprietors of Football Clubs in Nigeria” (APFN) met at the palatial home of Abiola and wrote the then sports minister, Bayo Lawal to notify him that they would not be able to finance football at the end of the season except certain reforms were implemented.

In the end, the league champions, Leventis United and Challenge Cup winners, Abiola Babes were disbanded.

The clubs alleged poor financial returns occasioned by bad administration on the part of the then NFA which is today’s NFF.

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