In apparent expression of dissatisfaction with the behavior of fans at the Onikan Stadium, Lagos, city club, Ikorodu United, has migrated from Lagos, having found a new home in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
In a twist of fate, what was meant as penalty to discipline Ikorodu United to maintain the match day security regulations of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) which it violated on match day 30 turned out to be a blessing in disguise for them as the club management has opted to remain in Abeokuta to which the LMC temporarily banished them to.
Following crowd incident during the Match Day 30 fixture against Shooting Stars at the Onikan Stadium, Ikorodu United was found not to have ensured adequate security and were ordered to play three home games at Abeokuta with two suspended on condition of good behaviour by the fans.
After serving the sanction on Match Day 32 and defeated Niger Tornadoes 1-0 the club has turned back in a letter signed by its General Manager, Dele Gbajumo, to the LMC, appealing that they be allowed to adopt the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta, as their new home for the remainder of the season and the LMC has so approved the request for them.
In the letter of request for relocation from Lagos to Abeokuta, the club said it cannot be sure to provide adequate security at the Onikan Stadium, Lagos and asked to be left in Abeokuta.
“We will not be able to guarantee the full control of the crowd and general safety at the Onikan Stadium as the unruly fans at the Onikan Stadium are not known to us and neither can they be identified should there be any form of fracas”, the club wrote in its appeal letter.
In granting the approval, the LMC directed Ikorodu United to liaise with the Ogun State Football Association towards ensuring that adequate preparations are made for security and crowd control for the matches.
Ikorodu United will thus host El-Kanemi Warriors on Match Day 33 at the MKO Abiola Stadium on Sunday.
The LMC has consistently and in accordance with provisions of the Rules and Framework meted out appropriate sanctions to erring clubs, players, officials and fans to ensure decorum in the NPFL. It is ironical that what initially seemed punitive has turned out a blessing for Ikorodu United.
However, it will spell difficult times for Lagos fans who are now left with only NFM FC playing in the top league. Lagos Islanders, especially, will lose the opportunity of seeing the NPFL games at the Onikan Waterfront and will now have to do the journey to Agege to see the MFM games.
Lagos had expected to revive its robust football league culture with the emergence of the two clubs into the elite league but the request by Ikorodu to leave the city gives cause for concern. Last season, hopes were on the revival of Stationery Stores FC but the journey was short lived as the club fizzled out despite the enthusiasm with which fans welcomed its return