In recent months, the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) has enjoyed a higher patronage than before as a result of the combination of the European leagues being on break and the seemingly brilliant job the League Management Company (LMC) alongside sports journalists have done to create awareness, increase interest and drive conversations on social media.
However, the players have arguably played the bigger role as week in, week out, fans are treated to an exciting brand of football and positive results and reviews emanate from different centres regularly.
Despite being the key components in this new generated interest, the Nigerian player still suffers from the basic of all basics, Salary. For all of their efforts on the pitch, their palms still itch.
High flying Sunshine Stars who finished the first round as table toppers owe their players four months salary although, the management have promised to pay up two months out of the four. For the Akure Gunners, the backlog of salaries hasn’t affected players performances as they remain one of the best teams in the land. Instead, players have used it to inspire themselves to continue amassing points believing that the club management will carry out their duties sooner than later.
But the same cannot be said of relegation favourites, Taraba FC. The Jalingo outfit have the envious record of owing their players for the longest period. Eight months.
It’s unimaginable and unbelieveable that players can be owed for so long without the management having sleepless nights; I’m assuming they sleep peacefully and dream of how good they are at their job. Unlike Sunshine Stars, Taraba FC haven’t used this adversity they’re currently facing as a form of inspiration and for that, they’re now overwhelming favourites for relegation comfortably sitting in the 20th position with only two wins to their name. Teams such as Ifeanyi Ubah FC and most recently Warri Wolves have picked maximum points at Taraba and we expect more of such results as players are now disillusioned with life over there.
From Taraba, we move to the Eastern part of the country where perennial underachievers, Enugu Rangers owe players five months salary.
Into the last eight of the Federation Cup and doing very well in the league, Rangers proudly enter into this debtors list with some swagger. The team is currently making the headlines for all the right reasons on the pitch under new coach Imama Imakapabo, but all that could change if they try to steal Taraba’s crown and that brave attempt will undo all of the good work Imama has done in the few weeks he’s been there especially with the exit of teams such as Kano Pillars and Enyimba from the Federation Cup, Rangers’ chances of ending their 30 year trophyless drought is now brighter than its been in recent memory.
Finally, on today’s list of debtors, we have the legendary and iconic Shooting Stars of Ibadan.
The Oluyole Warriors are believed to be owing players about three months salary, but that’s not reflecting on their performances. As a matter of fact, Shooting Stars have picked up more points playing on empty stomachs. Initially marred in relegation struggles, the club have risen to 12th position and are looking good for a top half finish on their return to the topflight.
Clearly, the League Management Company frowns on clubs owing players but there is little or nothing that can be done if affected players fail to notify the governing body of their predicament. A good example is the case of Dolphins.
The Port-Harcourt based team at some point owed players about six months salaries and it got to a point where players couldn’t go on and that was when a player of the club wrote a letter to LMC telling the body of the salaries he was owed. On getting his letter, the LMC acted and made it clear that six points will be deducted from the struggling side. The club then reacted swiftly and payed up. A testament to the importance of money which can sometimes act as a catalyst for good results is Dolphins who came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Kano Pillars, few days after players had been paid.
The coaching crew of Rangers, Sunshine Stars and Shooting Stars deserve all the praises coming their way and more, for being able to motivate their players under the circumstances they currently find themselves in.
The league has been brilliant this year and LMC seem to be on the right path however, the issue of salary remains a constant threat to the overall growth of the league and it will be great to see the LMC fashion out a way to ensure clubs abandon this terrible act.
Unfortunately, Nigerian players and clubs don’t reveal details of contracts therefore, getting figures of actual salaries been owed is difficult.
But Pay them what you owe them, don’t act like you forgot. Clubs better have their money!