The European football league season is over and football fans are already yearning for it to return. You can’t fault their quest at all due to the entertainment and excitement they enjoy in abundance.
The Nigeria Professional Football League still has 12 match days to go but just a few are happy or are earnestly waiting for the campaign to come to an end which is rather sad.
Earlier in the season, the game between Kano Pillars and Enyimba became a trending topic on Twitter even when the European league was very much active. It showed that many Nigerians joined in the conversation which was a big plus to the league’s popularity then.
In addition, Sikiru Olatunbosun’s impeccable goal against Rangers even sold the league to the world as his effort won the CNN goal of the week.
The story however is different now.
A lot of NPFL games have been seeing a lot of empty seats across various match venues in recent weeks. This is in contrast to how the league started in which the followership was superb. NPFL faithful were always on the lookout for the coming weekend or midweek games but it’s just not the same now.
A drastic drop in NPFL followership can be attributed to the unavailability of the games on cable television anymore. Supersport has been the sole TV broadcaster of games in recent times but a dispute between Multichoice and the League Management Company has suspended the weekly broadcast many were becoming accustomed to watching.
Even the online platform, urllivestream, proposed earlier in the season for live streaming has not seen the light of the day since its test run in the game between Pillars and ABS as well as FC Ifeanyi Ubah and Sunshine Stars.
For neutrals like me, I go to the stadium to watch games but I have been really disappointed and frustrated in the manner in which the match officials, away teams and home supporters conduct themselves. It has been on an alarming rate especially in this second stanza of the league season.
I have found the performances of the match officials rather amusing as on countless times as they’ve been terrible in their decision making and have also been giving victories to home teams on a platter of gold. They might have been doing so due to the hostile nature or despicable attitude of the home fans when calls are not going in their favour.
In another scenario, the performance of the away teams are usually terrible and nothing to write home about. Furthermore, the teams on the road will set out in a way that they have just one thing in mind, which is to pick an away point then you begin to wonder why our teams continue to falter on continental assignments across Africa.
Only FC Ifeanyi Ubah has won an away game by more than a goal margin which was against Shooting Stars in Ibadan, winning 3-0. We have seen just 10 away wins in the league so far which is a poor record.
For this to change, football must be back on TV or online streaming . Clubs should also be more active on Social Media as this is a massive way to engage the fans, especially potential ones that need a change of heart to support the league.
The NPFL has the capability to be the best in Africa in years to come but we need to put things back in its rightful place. Can we go an NPFL season without crowd trouble? Yes. Can teams begin to play good football with the right mentality even on away grounds? Absolutely.
This however can only happen when the League Management Company, clubs, the Nigeria Referees Association and various stakeholders are all on the same page as regards what will take our league football forward because as it stands, that is not the case.
If this can be achieved, the NPFL will definitely reach the promised land. If it doesn’t happen, things will just continue to go round in circles and there would be little or no progress.
What more needs to be done to make the NPFL appealing? Let’s have your thoughts in the comment box below.
Follow Samuel on Twitter: @Undisputed_Jsam
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