With the 2021/22 season of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) six Matchdays to go, the League Management Company (LMC) has intensified stakeholder engagements aimed at ensuring a smooth end governed by fair play standards.
Realistically, the top-flight title is heading towards Port Harcourt for the first time as Rivers United have a healthy seven-point advantage over Plateau United. If the Jos side finish second on the log – which is most likely – they will join Rivers United in representing Nigeria in next season’s CAF Champions League.
There are also battles for the sole CAF Confederation Cup via the league, as well as survive contents. The last four teams on the table will be relegated. And at the moment, not even the sides at the middle of the table are spared.
On Wednesday in Abuja, LMC Chairman, Shehu Dikko and his team began strategic consultative meetings with some significant participants in Matchday management. The engagement will review the season and deepen fair play.
Also at the meeting were LMC CEO, Davidson Owumi; and the COO, Salihu Abubakar. The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Match Commissioners and Referees Appointment Committee was led by Alhaji Sharif Rabiu Inuwa Ahlan, and accompanied by the President of the Nigeria Referees Association (NRA), Otunba Tade Azeez, the NFF Match Commissioners Appointment Committee Chairman, Babagana Kalli and the NFF Referees Coordinator/Secretary Referees Committee, Mr Sani Zubeiru.
In reviewing the season, the meeting identified areas to strengthen and it was agreed by the parties that only astute and seasoned match officials would be appointed to handle the last six Matchdays starting from this Sunday’s Matchday 33.
“We took stock of trends in the past seasons and realised that anxiety to either win title, secure continental ticket or avoid relegation sometimes come to play leading to tendencies to disrupt games and or deploy unfair means in trying to get points.
“So, the meeting we called is to ensure that in all fixtures, fairness will be upheld. We are on the same page with the Committee on this”, Dikko said.
He commended the leadership of the Referees and Match Commissioners Appointment Committee and the NRA for their role in ensuring a credible season so far despite some unexpected challenges.
“On Referees, it was agreed that the NRA will encourage their members on the field to be courageous and extra vigilant to interpret the rules and manage games in line with football best practices, especially at this crucial time of the season while the match commissioners are enjoined to be firm and take control of their matches to ensure everything and everyone played by the rules”, Dikko said.
The LMC said it would hold further meetings with the NFF Security Committee led by Ibrahim Gusau to discuss enhancement of security structure at match venues, while working with the NFF Integrity Unit to ensure that any potentials for match interference and unethical conduct were blocked.