By Wale Emosu
All seems not well with the League Management Company (LMC), the body overseeing the affairs of the elite football league in Nigeria, the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
Tribunesport understands that the LMC has for some weeks now, been unable to perform its statutory function of paying referees’ indemnities as their entitlements after every league match.
A source close to the LMC told Tribunesport specifically that the body started defaulting in the payment of referees’ indemnities from Week 13 of the current football season. This development, the source added, may engender corruption which was meant to be guarded against when the LMC was trusted with that responsibility.
“When it was agreed that the LMC should be paying the referees’ indemnities, one of the things meant to be achieved was a corruption-free league because referees would not be tempted to collect bribes from willing clubs to skew matches in their favour,” the source told Tribunesport.
Already the Week 16 games of the season have been decided with match days 17 and 18 rescheduled to pave way for the final matches of state FA Cup.
However, when contacted, Kelechi Mejuobi, national publicity secretary, Nigeria Referees Association (NRA), said “it is not unusual”. He added that he was in the field in Week 13 and received his due.
“I was in Akure for the Sunshine versus Kwara United match [in Week 13] and I received my alert, though last week they were not paid and it’s not the first time,” Mejuobi told Tribunesport.
And anytime the referees do not get paid, Mejuobi said “it is not unusual [because] we do business with the LMC. In the last five years there has never been a season the league ended with the complaints of LMC owing referees. There could be lapses here and there, it is not an issue. We are not complaining,” he said.
Tribunesport made efforts to speak to the Chief Operating Officer of the LMC, Salihu Abubakar on the issue, but his line was unreachable by press time.