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Editorials, Sports

Privatization: The Way To Go In Nigerian Football

Privatisation can help the NPFL in terms of investment and professionalism, but it’s not a silver bullet solution to all of the league’s challenges.

  • Toyosi Afolayan
  • 28th April 2023

A strong return on investment in the beautiful game is the driving force behind the founding and management of clubs in football-loving nations around the world. The owners of these football clubs are frequently intrigued by what they expect to gain from gate receipts, merchandise sales, TV rights, and, most importantly, the steadfast support of the clubs’ “die-hard” fans, who are the driving force behind taking these clubs beyond the borders of the country where the league is being played.


The fans are the key parties in this situation. The investment of the supporters is their support, and their reward is the emotional fulfillment that all football fans seek, whether it be by pursuing promotion, avoiding relegation, or participating in a cup run. All a football team needs to do is to ensure these returns are justified.


Clubs are founded for many causes in Nigeria, though. Some clubs were founded out of enthusiasm or love for the game, though the majority were founded to provide jobs for young people.



But even worse is the fact that the money given to manage the clubs run by the various governments is mismanaged and unaccounted for. As a result, the clubs, unlike those in the Western parts of the world, are unable to reach their full potential.


These state-owned clubs in Nigeria don’t care about making a profit because they are confident that the government will cover their expenses no matter what. That isn’t always the case, though, as governments frequently struggle to meet their duties to the team and are unable to pay players and officials when they are due.


The free-money system has also reduced competition in the football market because privately held clubs find it challenging to survive in such conditions. The privately held clubs have faced unfair competition. Stakeholders claim that the circumstance makes it difficult for the corporate sector to play significant roles in the club football system.


The success that Leventis United experienced in the brief time of its existence inspired more private individuals to enter the club football industry. As a result, Nigeria had teams like Obanta United, Flash Flamingoes, Iwuanyanwu Nationale, and Abiola Babes.


During this time, clubs controlled by companies like NEPA, Julius Berger, National Bank, ACB, First Bank, IBWA, Stationery Stores, and Nigerian Railways dominated the nation’s football. In recent times, we have seen clubs privately owned come to life in Nigeria and are being run well. The NPFL has been home to some while the lower leagues have housed the rest over time.


Notable mentions are Remo Stars, Sporting Lagos, Vandrezzer FC, Ikorodu City FC, and Gbagada FC.  The aforementioned clubs are privately owned by individuals and groups.



These clubs can be considered examples of how a football club should be in some aspects, particularly in terms of its unique ownership structure that allows fans to own shares in the club and participate in its management. This model of fan ownership is gaining popularity worldwide, and it helps to foster a sense of community and loyalty among the fans.


Moreover, their innovative approach to football management, which emphasizes transparency, accountability, and community engagement, is also commendable. The clubs have an active presence on social media and regularly engage with their fans, sharing information about the club’s activities and soliciting feedback and input. This approach helps to build trust and foster a sense of ownership and belonging among the fans.


However, it is important to note that there are different ways in which a football club can be successful, and what works for one club may not necessarily work for another. The clubs’ unique ownership structure and management approach may not be suitable for every club, depending on factors such as the size of the club, its fan base, and its financial situation.


Therefore, while these clubs can be seen as examples of a well-run football club, it is important to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to football management, and different clubs may need to adopt different strategies and approaches to achieve success.




The league football system in Nigeria is marred with inconsistent officiating and inadequate financial returns for clubs. The leagues have struggled to attract significant investment and commercial interest, which has limited the resources available to clubs. This has had a knock-on effect on the quality of infrastructure and facilities, player welfare, and the competitiveness of the leagues.


The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is the highest level of the Nigerian football league system, for the Nigerian club football championships. The Nigerian league has suffered, like many others, from the financial impact and dwindling fortunes since the late 2000s. It is fed into by the Nigeria National League (NNL).


The leagues have faced challenges about the organization and management of the league, including issues with governance challenges. These issues have impacted the league’s reputation and ability to attract top talent and investment.


The aforementioned issues have led to the death of several private clubs in Nigeria. Recently, clubs like MFM FC and FC Ifeanyi Ubah have gone into oblivion.




Private clubs can bring significant benefits to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) in terms of investment, professionalism, and competition. Private clubs are often able to attract more investment and resources than public clubs, which can translate into better infrastructure, better training facilities, and better player recruitment. Private clubs also tend to be more professionally run, with stronger management structures and clearer strategic objectives.



In addition, private clubs can also increase competition within the league, which can improve the overall quality of the league. Competition for resources, players, and success can motivate all clubs to perform at their best, which can lead to a more exciting and entertaining league.


However, it is important to note that private clubs should not be seen as a solution to all the challenges facing the NPFL. The league needs to continue to address governance and financial issues and improve infrastructure and player welfare to create a more attractive and sustainable environment for all clubs, both private and public.


In summary, private clubs can bring significant benefits to the NPFL in terms of investment, professionalism, and competition, but they are not a silver bullet solution to all of the league’s challenges. The league needs to continue to improve in various areas to create a more attractive and sustainable environment for all clubs.


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