The chairman of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), Honourable Gbenga Elegbeleye, said the commencement of the 2022/2023 football season today in Uyo will not only usher in a new era for Nigerian football but birth a new league that Nigerian football fans and supporters would be proud of.
The IMC boss stated this during a radio program ‘Sports Fact File’ in Abuja and monitored by Tribune Sports. Elegbeleye assured Nigerians of a clear departure from the past where the best teams will win their games, the referees handle the matches professionally, and get their emoluments when due.
“We are starting a new phase of football development in Nigeria something quite different from the past and we expect a great departure from the past too by having a league that Nigerians will be happy about. We want a league where the best teams are winning their matches, where no matches are won on other things. This is what we are doing to make the Nigerian league transparent and as professional as possible.
“Referees will get their remuneration the day they will be officiating. And secondly, their emoluments have been increased by 60 percent and we are going to increase their transport allowance by 40 percent. This we are going to do to make the referees comfortable. Poor officiating by the referees will not give us a good image.
We want to see a situation where Nigerian referees are well paid and create very good conditions to make them happy so that the issue of CAF looking for referees will look in the direction of Nigerian referees. A situation where FIFA will shortlist African referees and you will not see Nigerian referees is what we are trying to prevent. We want the referees to be up and doing. We have told them that to who much is given, much is expected.
“Before now, the referees are owed three years of unpaid emoluments. They have not been paid for three years. We see that there is no way you can help the referees to do their work other than paying them before their assignment and then we expect them to do what is expected of them by being fair, just, and by being professional on the field of play.”
Elegbeleye said tomorrow’s (Sunday) match between Akwa United of Uyo and Bendel Insurance at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium Nest of Champions will be beamed live as they have had an agreement with the country’s national television.
While the NPFL will kick off with Akwa United versus Bendel Insurance game, the remaining fixtures will be played on Saturday, January 14, 2023.