By Ogunfowoke Adeniyi When football fans discuss soccer, a non-partisan or disinterested person will be amazed by the passion and gusto with which the fans argue. The fans try as much as possible to defend their team reeling out incredible match statistics, trophies won and names of players. You will think they are being paid but alas, it is a platform for purgation from stress and escape from their daily routine.
As a result, bars, hotels and viewing centres in different parts of Benin are filled to the brim with fans at the edge of their seats hoping that their team will win as is usually the case when the English Premiership, Spanish La Liga, French League, and German Bundesliga are in season.
While the love for sports should be celebrated, the religious fanatism for foreign leagues has been said to be to the detriment of the Nigerian league which struggles for recognition and acceptance among teeming fans. Jovago.com Africa’s No 1 hotel booking portal shares 6 ways to make the tournament more attractive to football fans.
On radio, television and sports pages of newspaper, reporters prefer to report foreign leagues. Surprisingly, on radio sports show, many so-called sports analyst do not have information about the Nigerian tournaments compared to the unlimited statistics at their fingertips on European leagues.
There are only a handful of journalists who can mention 10 players, and the highest goal scorer of the Nigerian League. Without effective media coverage, the league will continue to decline. If the media can give as much attention as they give to European leagues, it will go a long way in developing the league.
The Nigerian Premier League’s official title sponsor is Glo, a telco in Nigeria. It signed a three-year partnership totaling N1.89 billion dollars with the League Management Company (LMC) Limited which will expire this year according to Supersport.com. The deal was signed in 2013.
Although this is good, the impact has not been felt in the league as many of the teams are owing salaries, cannot pay sign on fees and some of the league games are poorly organized.
The marketing department of the league needs to get more sponsors rather than relying on a single one. There are many corporate bodies out there willing to sponsor the league if they are guaranteed judicious and transparent use of the money.
A good stadium attracts good football. This is a reason why European football is attractive. Despite the fact the League Management Company (LMC) Limited has placed bans on some stadia; this has not led to the improvement of stadiums.
Many of these stadia are in a state of disrepair while the natural grass is not well nurtured thus; the television video coverage is not up to scratch. The LMC should support the clubs to upgrade these stadiums to make television complaint.
Increase online presence
The LMC and clubs like Heartland, Lobi Stars, Sunshine Stars, Enyimba, Shooting Stars and Warri Wolves among others must be commended for their concerted efforts in increasing their online presence especially providing real-time tweets of match proceedings on twitter.
But, more efforts are still required so that sports journalists can access information to write their stories. They can start by launching an active website.
Safety and security of fans
Football fans will always put their safety and security ahead of their passion for football. This is because there have been reports that fans being attacked, referees and coaches of opposing teams beaten to a pop. Meanwhile, the LMC hands out punishment in an attempt to end this menace.
Despite this, it is yet to boost the confidence of fans as they decide to stay at home rather than go to the stadium. If the security of fans and journalists are guaranteed, they will visit stadiums to watch their favourite teams.
End government club ownership
Out of the 20 club competing in the Nigerian Premiership only Giwa FC and FC Ifeanyin Ubah are privately owned. The remaining 18 are at the mercy of the state government. The players are often owed salaries due to government bureaucracy. Aside from this, the governments have other state responsibilities. Thus, owning a sports club may be a distraction. If the league wants to be attractive, the governments have to hands-off owning these football clubs. They should either be quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange or privately owned. This will bring about effective management and structure.
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