“Facts are facts and cannot disappear on accounts of your likes” – Josh Billing.
The consensus among keen observers of the NPFL is that the just concluded 2014/2015 season was a huge success. Many are quick to point at the innovations brought in by the LMC which has added more colour to the domestic scene, consequently boosting attendance to match venues.
It was a season that saw the cheer leaders spice up the match venues; a season that families took to league venues as relaxation spots. Of course, the LMC pact with the IG meant there was improved security at the venues so the violent incidents were minimal.
To term this a break-out season for the NPFL could be an understatement but there was more to the 2014/2015 NPFL season than mere hype. The facts and figures attest to the league’s sustained growth in the past three seasons. The obvious improvements have boosted investors’ confidence with the clubs and the league reaping from the improved funding.
For 2012/13 season, 62% of the expenditure went to the clubs while 38 % went into other expenses. This improved to 68%/32% in 2013/14 and 71%/29% in 2014/2015 seasons.
Then, there is the Basic awards (that is money shared equally among the clubs); In 2012/13, the clubs got N10.5m each; N15m in 2013/14 and N40m in 2014/2015.
Merit Awards (shared to clubs based on their final position on the league table): For 2012/13, a budget of N50m was mapped out for this with the winner pocketing N10m. In 2013/14, the budget increased to N75m and the winner got N15m. Then in 2014/15, the budget was N150m (winners, Enyimba got N30m).
Facilities/Football Development award: 2012/13 budget was N12.5m; 2013/14 (N50m) and 2014/15 (N183m). Note the over 300% increase from 2013/14 to 2014/15.
There is the Parachute payment given to relegated clubs. As the name implies, this is meant to serve as a ‘parachute’ to cushion the effects of their relegation to the less-fancied NNL. The budget for this rose to N20m in 2014/2015. Perhaps, from the parachute and other monies due Taraba FC, LMC should pay their striking players.
Match officials/delegates indemnities: 2012,2013 (N131m), 2013/14 (N191m), 2014/15 (N300m)
For being live on TV, clubs got N250,000 in 2012/13, N250,000 in 2013/14. For the 2014/15 season, LMC made some innovations. A club that drew 5,000 fans to the venue got N250,000; an away win attracted N250,000 while a team got N100,000 for an away draw.
Crowd attendance has also increased during the period under review. In 2012/13, there was an average of 1,000 spectators at each venue. This rose to 2,000 in 2013/14 and 5,000 in 2014/15. For the ground-breaking Friday night game between Akwa United and Nasarawa United at the 30,000 capacity Nest of Champions Uyo, there were 14,000 paying fans at the venue.
All these would have amounted to nothing if it didn’t reflect on the pitch. The improved security and remuneration of the match officials led to improved officiating hence there were 32 away victories in 2014/15 season against 24 recorded in 2013/14.
A breakdown of the clubs’ away forms saw champions, Enyimba amassing 23 points on the road (a new record), winning 5 matches and drawing 8. They won the most away matches and duly emerged champions.
Here is a breakdown of the clubs’ away victories: Nasarawa (4), Wikki (4), Sunshine (3), Ifeany Uba (3), Giwa (2), Heartland (2), Sharks (2), Wolves (1), Rangers (1), Pillars (1), Shooting Stars (1), Abia Warriors (1), Kwara United (1), Taraba (1). So only five teams failed to win on away soil namely, Lobi, Dolphins, Bayelsa, El Kanemi and Akwa United.
Kwara United lost the most home matches (5). Little wonder, they were relegated. 13 other teams lost at home namely; Taraba (3), Bayelsa (3), Ifeanyi Uba (3), Rangers (3), Abia (3), Heartland (3), Sunshine (2), El Kanemi (2), Wolves (1), Pillars (1), Shooting Stars (1), Akwa United (1), Dolphins (1).
It was not a mere coincidence that in this season, two long-lasting home records were broken. Pillars lost for the first time on home soil in 12 years while Sunshine’s 7 years unbeaten run at home was broken. Incidentally, these records were smashed by Nasarawa United. Once more, it was only fitting that Nasarawa secured a continental ticket.
These figures point only at one direction for the 2015/16 NPFL season- that is, the sky!