I LEFT SHOOTING BECAUSE MY SERVICES WERE NO LONGER NEEDED - MUTIU ADEPOJU
Former Super Eagles midfielder, Mutiu Adepoju, tells OLUFEMI ATOYEBI about the intrigues that led to his decision to vacate his position as the general manager of Shooting Stars of Ibadan
Can you look back at the last five years which you spent as the general manager of Shooting Stars?
I'd a good time with the team and I've no regret coming home from Spain to accept the job. I've to accept that there were objectives I set at the beginning, which I didn't accomplish now that I'm leaving. But that wasn't because I didn't put in my best. I did my best and with what I was able to achieve, I leave a happy man.
You must have secured a position somewhere before taking the decision to leave.
Not immediately. I've to take a good rest and take a deep look at the options before me. I cannot do anything until I've done that. I've worked for five years in 3SC, waking up at 5 am and coming back home at 7 pm every day except when we travel to play matches.
You played for this club and attained glory and on your return, the fans thought you were home to rebuild the club. Why did you decide to resign your position abruptly?
I don't want to expatiate on the circumstances or give too many details of the reason why I made the decision to go. I came to 3SC as the general manager/technical director and over the years, different boards have been put in place and I'd worked with them all. But every one of them had their own ideas and I've mine as well.
Were you able to marry their ideas with yours?
There are ways to link the ideas for the benefit of the club. But if you are in a place where your ideas are not taken seriously, it's a little bit difficult and the best thing to do is to move on.
There was rumour that you left because the board of the club was contemplating slashing your remuneration. Is this true?
I don't know the source of such rumour. I had a contract that expired at the end of the last season. At the end of it, I received a letter from the board that I should re-apply for another contract. That is a way to tell someone that he is no longer needed. I cannot re-apply for a job I already have. The right thing is to invite me for talks on the offer of a new contract. You renew an employee's contract, but you don't tell him to re-apply. I'd played with many clubs and in all my playing days, I'd signed many contracts and was offered renewal. You cannot be told to re-apply for your own position again when you are not sacked. Before making the decision, I contacted the Oyo State Commissioner for Sports, Dapo Lam-Adeshina because of the respect I have for him. I told him my decision to move on. In all places that I'd played, I like to leave friends behind and the current chairman of the board of 3SC, Toyin Akintunde, will remain my friend.
Was it easy taking that decision to go?
It was a very difficult decision to take because of the relationship I've with the club as a brand and the fans, but I must also admit that it was one I'd been nursing for a year. Sometimes ago I looked back and realised that there were things I would have done if I were given the opportunity to make an impact at the club. It's just better to move on.
There was rumour that you were coming home to work with one of the national teams but you accepted the 3SC job instead. Are you leaving the club to fulfil that ambition?
I'm not leaving 3SC because of an ambition to work with one of the national teams. As at now, there is nothing like that. When I came home from Spain, I gave myself a target of working for four or five years and taking a break to see how I would have fared. After that number of years, if you feel that you are not adding any value to what is on ground, then you must look elsewhere. But for you to add value to something there must be certain structure to work with. For example, people have accused me that the club are not where they should be by now. But there are some conditions that are militating against the club.
What were the limitations you had working as the GM?
Five years ago, the club's image was not as good as it is today. The club had gone down over the years and to lift such club, you must aspire to achieve like other successful clubs. But how much are those clubs spending and what is the budget of 3SC? This is an important aspect that must be considered. You can talk about Real Madrid and Barcelona winning in Spain but you cannot compare their purse with that of other clubs in La Liga. The two clubs are far richer that all the other clubs. It's the same in our league. But people will keep on saying Kano Pillars and Sunshine are doing better that 3SC without thinking of the finance of those clubs.
Will this complain form the basis for the club's lack of silverware while you were there?
I'm not giving excuses for not winning trophy but I'm sure that I did my best within the limitation of the finance I ran the club with as GM. With the finance I had, some managers would not have survived.
With your experience and connection in Europe, why was it so difficult to attract foreign club partnership for 3SC?
It's true that people said that I failed to attract partners from Spain where I played for so long and from Europe too. They expected that I should have used my link to entice big clubs, sports marketing companies and sports managers to partner 3SC in terms of player/coaches development. But you cannot invite someone to assess a product that has not reached the level they are looking for. Before a club or an investor can partner with any club, there must be a fine structure on ground. But at 3SC, we don't have such a structure now. Once you fail to convince them once, they won't come back to you. If we have good foundation and quality structure to drive marketing, we can invite any big club to invest in our club. These are my ideas for the club but with the budget we had, I could only pay salaries, sign a few players, pay other employees, run the office and do a few other things.
How much impact did player transfer fee had on the club finance?
We earned some money from player sale, but it was not as much as we expected. Some clubs from Europe insult Nigerian players by offering ridiculous amount to sign them. For example, how would I have explained selling a player for $15,000? We came across things like this and we had to cancel such deals. We need to respect the game.
How long are you taking time off the game?
I'm not leaving completely; I still have a future in the game. Immediately after leaving the club three weeks ago, I returned to Spain to attend a refresher UEFA Pro course. It's a course you need to do every three years to upgrade your knowledge of the game. I returned to Nigeria last week and I just have to wait and see what will happen next. I won't mind joining another Nigerian club if the environment is okay to excel.