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‘Never again! Abridged league is a child of circumstances’ says Paul Bassey



Paul Bassey, eminent sports journalist and chairman, Akwa United


Although no decision has been taken regarding the format of the Nigeria Premier League for the up coming season, Paul Bassey, the chairman of Akwa United and member of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) that ran the last the league that was concluded earlier this month, has called for a full fledged league.

He told Sports Village Square in Owerri that it is only in a full league that a true champion can emerge as such a club would have faced all other teams in the league.

“The abridged league adopted for the 2022/23 season was a child of circumstances”, Bassey, a prominent sports journalist who ventured into sports administration, remarked.

He pointed out that the essence of the abridged league which Nigeria adopted for the fourth time after those of 2006, 2007 and 2019 had always been to align the Nigerian season with that of the international calendar.


“But this has never happened”. He pointed out  that had a full league ran, the clubs at the play-off would not have had to go through a rigorous five-day match within a space of eight days.

He also pointed out that makining it into the Super 6 was disproportionate.

He used his club, Akwa United as an example. The Uyo based team finished fourth on the Group A log. It had 32 points, the same with the third-placed Enyimba in the regular season, but got edged out on goal difference.

He argued that the 32-point haul of Akwa United was more that the 30 and 27 points scored by Lobi Stars and Sunshine Stars respectively in Group B of the league.

Had total point accrued were to be the main factor, he argued that Akwa United would have been in the Super 6.


He therefore called for a full league in the coming season. “If truly we begin in August, just like the other well known leagues in Europe, the season should be rounded up by April or May of the following year.

Sports Village Square recalls that it was for the purpose of aligning to the international calendar that Nigeria adopted an abridged league in 2006.

The result was not achieved. A repeat of the short league in 2007 also failed to align the Nigerian season to the international football calendar as the Nigerian league has never started on earlier proposed date.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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