No commercial input

By NBF News
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The Chairman of Total Promotions, Niyi Alonge, is not happy that Nigerian football is still crawling after many years it was declared that we run professional league. He is also pained that few individuals had held the game's development in the jugular, while about 80 per cent of the so-called football administers in the country are nothing but complete novice.

In a no-holds-barred interview with Daily Sunsports recently, Alonge asked those who are killing themselves to be part of football administration in Nigeria to go for other sports that require urgent attention and prove their mettle. He also called for a change of attitude on the part of those who believe that they are the only people who can administer football in the country.

'It is sad that after many years of professional football in Nigeria, we have yet to go professional in the game's administration,' Alonge began. 'In other parts of the world, even within Africa, everybody knows what his job is and does it diligently. But what do we have in Nigeria, a bunch of people who thrives in controversy. These are people who know next to nothing about football sponsorship, all they think about is how to get funds from government for running the game in the country.

'It looks like in this country we don't like perfect ways of doing things. There is a Chinese saying that 'if the head is rotten, the whole body would decay'. So, I think that if those who run football in Nigeria know what they are doing, our game would have developed better. If they had cared to study how football is run in soccer advanced countries and try to copy what is good from them and apply them in our system, things would have been better.

'If the cabal that is running the system down would distance themselves from mingling with what they know nothing about and as well, try and put the interest of the game first before their personal interests, our football would have developed. I also believe that if the cabal would give the various bodies we have in football a free hand to determine their own future, we would record progress in the game.

'I am a commercial person and also an insider in Nigerian football. And my position is that the commercial aspect of football in the country is highly compromised and until a drastic action is taken to address this shortfall, we cannot make progress in our football.'

Alonge continued: 'There is a misconception about the duties of elected officials, who run football in the country. They usually take their jobs as full time business. But it shouldn't be so. All they need is to set up a good administrative stream and allow the Secretariat to function effectively. The job of the elected members of the board should only be to make policies, while the Secretariat implements their programmes.

'For me, I think there is a large dose of personal interest in those offices that make our elected officials to run football as a full time job. In my company, I don't partake in the day-to-day running of its affairs. What I do is to set up a policy and monitor how it is implemented, and when I am not satisfied with what my men are doing, I ask questions. I sack those who are dragging us back when the need be. Our football could be run in the same manner and great results would be achieved.

'I have heard some coaches complaining about the imposition of players on them for some championships, it shouldn't be like that. Rather, a coach should be allowed to choose his players so that when he fails, he faces sack.

'I think a cabal has been holding our football in the jugular in the past 15 years and strange enough, that clique has not ventured into other sports. They have a mafia ring around football that when any of them quits, another person in their ring is recruited. But the question is why is it in football?

Why are they not interested in other sports?
Why must they suffocate football when other sports are there begging for attention?

'The only qualification to belong to the clique is that you must dance to their tune. At the National Sports Commission (NSC), what you see are people who are in office but are not in power. The immediate past minister of sports, Isa Bio confirmed that when he spoke recently on why he could not do much for Nigerian sports.

'We need to get some people out of the way to save Nigerian sports. It wouldn't take ages for us to sanitize the system if we want to because we know the bad eggs around.

'Look at our national team, we went to the last World Cup in South Africa with players, who we claimed that their average age was 28, but in actual fact, their average age bracket was between 30 and 32. So, tell me how we would have done well at that championship?

'I was in South Africa recently. I met with the president of their cricket association and solicited that he should dash us the nets, balls and bats they had discarded so that I could bring them for Nigerian schools, but he was surprised to hear me making such a request.

'Nigeria can do well in cricket, but who is willing to buy a ball for £5? I did the same for hockey and soon the equipment will arrive in the country. What I am doing is supposed to be the work of the NSC, but other mundane things are distracting the officials' attention.

'I literarily paid the first rent of Nigeria Premier League (NPL) in Abuja when it was to be thrown out by the owners of the property the body is occupying. I did it because, as a marketing person, I know that football is religion in Nigeria and we can get a great mileage from it if we work and get our acts right.

'Believe me, when things are properly put in place, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and NPL would not need government subvention to run football in the country, we only have to work it out,' the marketing guru concluded.