On the 27th of December 2020, the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) 2020/2021 season finally kicked off after series of uncertainty and postponement.
The league had been on a hiatus since March when sporting activities were suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak across the country.
There had been the announcement of different dates and postponement before the start date was finally confirmed after consultations with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the participating clubs of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), and also the commercial rights holder and strategic commercial partners of the LMC, Redstrike Group UK.
The League Management Company (LMC) chairman, Shehu Diko had earlier in the month enumerated the gains of the LMC-Redstrike partnership, one of which was to “enable the NPFL in line with the best international benchmarks, to have full control of its content to be distributed, marketed and monetized across all platforms such as OTT, Mobile, Free to Air and Cable TV to ensure the widest coverage that can generate appropriate revenues to NPFL.”
In previous seasons, there had been complaints and problems rising from the marketability of the league, revenue distribution, payment of remuneration, alleged match-fixing, incompetence of match officials, the inability of teams to win or even garner draws away from home and in trying to allay those fears the LMC
the chairman further mentioned that the partnership “will also guarantee other stakeholders of NPFL including match officials and service providers of a much improved and, or sustained indemnity and professional remuneration as part of the measures to improve standards across the football league industry value chain.”
He further disclosed that there would be “the return of performance incentive payments to the Nigeria Professional Football League participating clubs such as Basic Award (Guaranteed payments for participating), Technical/Performance Award (payments earned based on milestones achieved by the clubs),
Merit Award (Prize monies distributed to clubs based on the final position on the league table at the end of the season), and Parachute Payments (to support clubs relegated from the NPFL in the previous season.”
As well as these, the proposed Prize money for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd finishing positions for the season is N75 million, N50 million, and N35 million respectively as well as bonuses to teams for away wins and away draws, having more than 5000 fans for home matches.
The NPFL.TV app has been made available for football fans all over the country to view and follow football matches and activities anywhere and anytime.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) also mandated that clubs conduct COVID-19 tests on their players and backroom staff before every match and also mandated league bodies to conduct the COVID-19 tests on match officials before every match.
All these exciting packages seem to project to us that indeed a lot of planning and preparation has gone into the new season and fans, players, as well as stakeholders can expect a greater and better league than previous seasons and if anything, a new dawn for the Nigeria Professional League has come.
Indeed, matchday one provided us with some exciting activities including a 5-goal thriller in the game between Katsina United and Heartland as well as two away draws in the game involving Adamawa United and Kano Pillars and also the game involving Akwa United and Dakkada FC.
The biggest excitement of matchday one though, came from the game between Plateau United and Kwara United as the visiting claimed an impressive away win.
Equally impressive was having 3 matches televised and football fans from all over the world being able to watch the games including the head coach of the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr watch from his home in France.
If matchday one is anything to go by then indeed we are set for possibly a hitch-free and exciting 2020/2021 season which would surpass previous seasons in output, productivity, results, and excitement. A new dawn is indeed upon us and in the coming weeks and the entirety of the season, much more will be expected.