The Nigerian domestic cup competition, Federation Cup, will now be known as the Aiteo Cup after the energy group signed a sponsorship deal with the Nigeria Football Federation on Wednesday. The deal is expected to bring the necessary funds that has been lacking in the competition for so many years.
According to the details of the deal, the men winners will take home N25,000,000 and the females are expected to have N10,000,000 in their kitty while the runner-ups of both categories are to take home N10,000,000 and N5,000,000 respectively. The sponsorship deal, which its worth wasn’t disclosed, is expected to run for a period of five years.
Back in history, the newly named Aiteo Cup started as the “Governor’s Cup” in 1945 after succeeding the “War Memorial Challenge Cup” that had been limited to football teams in Lagos. By 1954, the competition was renamed the “FA Cup” and it remained so for the next six years.
By the start of the subsequent decade, the former name was replaced with the “Challenge Cup” and it stayed that way for a long period of years until 1999, when the first sponsor came in and the name got changed to the “Coca-Cola FA Cup”. After ten years, when the sponsorship deal was over, the competition returned with the “Federation Cup” in 2009 and has been that way until now.
Undoubtedly, the coming on board of the energy company Aiteo as the sponsors of the foremost cup competition in Nigerian football is seen by many observers as a way to go in the development of our club football. Furthermore, the deal is expected to add more (like Nigerians will say) “ginger” into the dull and forgotten cup competition.
Now that the deal has been signed, the gladiators in the glass house must not rest on their oars as this should be the beginning of more great things to come. Meanwhile, the board must now swing into action to properly plan a calendar that will see the final coming up before the end of September as the league will be ending in the first week of that month.
Asides that, the board must also look into the countless accusations been labeled at referees for their biased performances throughout the whole competition last year. If this deal is here to stay, the NFF and the Nigeria Referees’ Association must collectively see to that in order to create a good image for the tournament.
The NFF must also come up with a capable media team for the Aiteo Cup in order for it to gain the necessary attention and publicity before and during the competition itself, even as the league season is gradually getting to its climax.
On the flip side, I expect more teams to be committed to the competition more than ever as it will not only be the prize money alone but a continental berth is also on the cards. It’s been a while that we have seen a domestic double champion since 2005 with Enyimba and 2017 wouldn’t be a bad year for history to repeat itself.
Will the partnership of Aiteo pay off on the long run for Nigerian football? Drop your comments below.
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