More troubles for Nigerian football: Players union threaten industrial action over N600 million debt

Amaju Pinnick, NFF President
Amaju Pinnick, NFF President
Shehu Dikko, LMC Chairman
Shehu Dikko, LMC Chairman
Austin Popo, NANPF General Secretary
Austin Popo, NANPF General Secretary
Sunshine Stars players protesting salary debt last season
Sunshine Stars players protesting salary debt last season
FC Taraba players being harassed by soldiers at Govt House for protesting non-payment of near one year salary
FC Taraba players being harassed by soldiers at Govt House for protesting non-payment of near one year salary

The National Association of Nigeria Professional Footballers (NANPF) has issued a 14 days ultimatum to various clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) and the Nigeria National League (NNL) to pay up debts owed Nigerian footballers and club officials or face industrial action.

The ultimatum was issued in a NANPF statement signed by its General Secretary, Comrade Austin Popo, on Thursday morning calling on the indebted clubs to comply with the judgment of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Players Status and Arbitration panels of 2009, 2010 and 2015 which have sat on the issue.

Clubs neglect of obligations to players have become a major headache for the NFF and the LMC leading to a collective charge by the players union and intervention by the NFF Players Status and Arbitration Committee and on June 15, 2015, the committee headed by Babatana Kalli reconciled the various claims and demanded of the erring clubs to pay up.

The decisions of the NFF Players Status and Arbitration Committee were communicated to the affected clubs in the aftermath of the arbitration sittings with reminders and request for enforcement further sent through NFF and LMC letters dated October 22nd 2015 and 9th February 2016, respectively.

Sportstalkafrica.com enquiries revealed that Nigerian professional footballers are being cumulatively owed over N600m by both NPFL and NNL clubs with Nasarawa United apparently owing the highest backlog of about N182 million while Kwara United FC has been confirmed to have fully discharged its indebtedness to players and officials in compliance with the ruling of the arbitration.

While applauding the efforts of the NFF, its Secretary General Sanusi Muhammed, the League Management Company (LMC) and its chairman and CEO, Shehu Dikko and Nduka Irabor, in ensuring that clubs honour the arbitration judgment and their obligation to their current and outgone players, NANPF regretted that with several weeks into the 2015/2016 NPFL season and with a few weeks to the NNL season kick off, “the affected clubs have not made substantial efforts to liquidate the debts while they have gone on with the business of buying and selling players in disregard of the authority of the NFF, LMC and the rules of engagement.

The NANPF statement reads:
“As a result of the failure of the affected clubs to comply with the Arbitration decisions as communicated to them by the Nigeria Football Federation and the League Management Company, the Nigeria Players Union gives the indebted Clubs 14 days to pay the affected players and coaches or be ready to face the consequence of their non compliance.”

Regretting that NFF, LMC and the NNL have held back in applying the statutory sanctions on the defaulting clubs, NANPF said it has been left with no option than to open talks with the Trade Union Congress in recourse to industrial action.

“Having failed to secure the necessary statutory sanctions of the clubs for non compliance by both the Nigeria Football Federation and the League bodies, NANPF has commenced discussion with the leadership of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria to carry out strategic plans in ensuring full compliance by the affected clubs after the expiration of the 14 days deadline.”

The association said that it is aware of “the clandestine moves of some indebted clubs in the Nigeria National League to register for the the 2016 League season without complying with the decisions” and warned the concerned clubs “to do the right thing by paying the affected players and coaches or be ready to face the consequences of such unholy moves.”

The claims against the clubs as being made by NANPF on behalf of Nigerian professional footballers per the decisions of the NFF Players Status and Arbitration Committee is as listed below:

Group A: Per Arbitration decisions of 18th September 2015
1. Bayelsa United – N4,260,000 + N900,000
2. Kwara United – 36,150,000 ( Fully paid up)
3. Nasarawa United – N182,544,000
4. Rangers International – N10,193,000
5. Sharks FC – N950,000
6. Akwa Starlet – N27,850,000
7. Shooting Stars – N15,476,000
8. Sunshine FC – N3,500,000
9. Akwa United – N47,050,000
10. Gombe United – N16,500.000
11. Jigawa FC – N4,300,000
12. Mighty Jets N3,900,000
13. Kaduna United – N6,050,000
14. Insurance FC – N18,000,000
15. Crown FC – N4,104,000
16. Dolphin FC – N5,574,000
17. Gateway FC – N1,260,000
Sub Total: N388,561,000

Group B: Per Arbitration decisions of 18th 19th and 20th December 2009 and 10th 11th and 12th May 2010

1. Enyimba FC – N8,890,000
2. Shooting Stars – N1,150,000
3. Kano Pillars – N920,000
4. Dolphins FC – N21,315,000
5. Niger Tornadoes – N22,064,000
6. Wilki Tourists N31,040,000
7. Sunshine Stars – N2,100,000
8. Rangers International – N10,193,000
9. Warri Wolves – N18,287,500
10. Heartland FC – N11,797,00
11. Kwara United – 16,555,00 (Paid up)
12. Sharks FC – N4,3000,000
13. Insurance FC -N25,101,000
14. Unicem – N9,355,000
15. Bayelsa United – N6,005, 000
16. Elkanemi Warriors – N8,307,000
17. Akwa United – N1,990,000
Sub total: 212,013,500
Grand total indebtedness to Nigerian players: N600,574,500


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Fred Edoreh - Publisher

Born July 13, 1965, Fred Edoreh hails from Umeh, Isoko South, Delta State. He attended St. John Primary School, Iselegu, Mater Dei Collage Ashaka, St. Patrick’s Grammar School, Asaba for HSC and graduated in English and Literary Studies at Bendel State University, Ekpoma.
He went into journalism in 1990 with Newbreed Magazine and later crossed over to television production with Ultimate Sports and Soccerworld on the Nigeria Televsion Authority.
He subsequently moved to pioneer Internet publishing in Nigeria with Nigeriasports.com and was later employed at Silverbird Television from where he moved as Editor of Weekend Sports at Naational Mirror Newspapers.
He currently publishes the online sports website www.sportstalkafrica.com besides and also runs a sports marketing outfit, Westcoast Works and Projects, managing and marketing live radio broadcast of the Nigeria Professional Football League.

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