Heartland FC of Owerri has been issued a Summary Jurisdiction notice with fines totalling N4, 750, 000, an order to play three home fixtures behind closed door and suspended points deduction for the crowd incidence that trailed their Match Day 28 fixture against FC IfeanyiUbah at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri. One, Iyke Jacob, identified as the Club’s Supporters CLUB Chairman was also banned from all Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) matches for the rest of the 2015/16 season by the League Management Company (LMC).
The LMC also recommended to the the Imo State Football Association (ISFA) and Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to reconsider the role of the ISFA Security Committee Chairman, Mr. Teddy Isiadinso who also serves as a Match Commissioner for the NFF. The recommendation was based on the Match Commissioner’s report which cited Isiadinso as pledging to accept responsibility for any breach of the peace before, during and after the match.
The Owerri-based club was slammed six count violations of the NPFL Framework and Rules by the LMC after reviewing reports and video evidence provided by the Match Commissioner and Delegates to the match.
Heartland was fined of N750,000.00 (Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira only) for failing to ensure restriction of access to restricted areas by unauthorized persons in the course of the match, in breach of Rule B13.52.
The second count read, “You are in breach of Rule B13.52 of the Framework and Rules of the Nigeria Professional Football League, in that on Saturday, 23rd July 2016, after your Match Day 28 fixture: Heartland FC vs. FC Ifeanyiubah, you failed to ensure adequate security and crowd control particularly in the manner in which match officials and members of the visiting team were exposed to aggression and crowd violence perpetrated by your supporters”. For this breach, the club was fined another N750, 000.
On the third count of the supporters encroachment on to the field of play and throwing objects towards the field of play immediately after the match in breach of Rule B13.18, Heartland was fined of N1,000,000.00
On the fourth count, the LMC charged Heartland for breach of Rule B6.23 of the Framework and Rules of the NPFL stating, “that on Saturday, 23rd July 2016, in the course of your Match Day 28 fixture: Heartland FC vs. FC Ifeanyiubah, your supporters hindered the complete video-coverage of the match, particularly the post-match scenes”.
The penalty for this offence read, “a fine of N1,000,000.00 and a two-point deduction for hindering the complete video-coverage of the match, in breach of Rule B6.23, provided that the execution of the two-point deduction shall be suspended subject to a probationary period of the remainder of the season”.
Heartland’s fifth charge read, “You are in breach of Rule C1, punishable by virtue of Rule B15.16, of the Framework and Rules of the Nigeria Professional Football League, in that on Saturday, 23rd July 2016, immediately after your Match Day 28 fixture: Heartland FC vs. FC Ifeanyiubah, some of your supporters assaulted match officials by hitting them and throwing objects (including plastic chairs, tables, stones and cans) at them”.
Having been found culpable, the sanction by the LMC includes a fine of N1, 250, 000 being compensation to the four match officials and the Match Commissioner at N250, 000 for each of them.
Heartland Supporters were also found to have attacked the visiting team players, officials and supporters leading to damage to the visiting team bus whose windows were shattered in breach of Rule C1.
Consequently, the club has been ordered to play their next three home matches behind closed doors beginning with the August 7 fixture against Nasarawa United for breach of Rule B13.21. A pre-condition for opening the stadium to spectators and supporters again is that, “Heartland must take steps which shall include proper demarcation of restricted areas and workshops for stewards and supporters on code of conduct”.
The LMC further ruled that “in view of the gravity of the incident and the complicity of the Club and its officials, pursuant to Rule C18.6, Heartland FC shall also forfeit the one (1) point it previously earned in the match, provided that the execution of the one-point deduction shall be suspended subject to a probationary period of the remainder of the season;
Lastly, the club was notified that “pursuant to Rule B13.23, Heartland shall pay for the costs of damages to FCIfeanyiubah bus and for injuries sustained by its players and officials”.
Heartland must respond in writing accepting the sanctions or elect to be heard by a Commission not later than Friday, July 29. But should it fail to comply with this requirement within the time limit which constitutes a breach of the League Rules, it will be liable to be dealt with under the provisions of Section C.
Furthermore, the LMC reminded the club that “in accordance with Rule E1, where an appeal or election to be dealt with by a Commission fails or is found to have been frivolous, you may be liable to such additional sanction as may be deemed fit in the circumstances”.