NPFL: The Revival Of Domestic Football In Nigeria By Sobowale Abdulquayyum
The Nigerian domestic league was among the bests in Africa in the 70s and 80s. It was entertaining and action filled and this made fans across the country watch the league enthusiastically.
The league had the presence of superstarslike Segun Odegbami, Rashidi Yekini, Finidi George and lots more. These footballers were so good that they were representing Nigeria right from our domestic clubs, which seems a bit impossible in today’s Nigerian football as the starters are foreign based footballers.
The late 90s and early 2000s was when the Nigerian league dwindled. That period saw quite an amount of Nigerians move to top English Premier League sides, including Nwakwo Kanu moving to Arsenal and Celestine Babayaro moving to Chelsea.
This was also a period cable television showing the premier league became popular in Nigeria, all these had a very negative effect on our domestic league as the attention of football lovers in the country shifted to European football.
The Pre-season of the 2023/24 season of the Nigerian Premier football League (formerly Nigerian Professional Football League) saw a new and totally different aura. The Super 8 competition was keenly contested and also well watched across the country.
The mood transcended into the season and a lot of football lovers have been following the league more than we have seen in recent times. In fact, a lot of fans watch the matches live from the stadiums of their best loved football clubs.
A corps member who could not afford to miss his Sporting Lagos vs Kano Pillars. Credit- Sporting Lagos page on X.
NPFL Broadcast Rights Deal
The President of the NFF, Ibrahim Gusau on 2nd of November 2023 led members of the board of the NPFL to sign a broadcast rights deal with media big name Startimes to bring the NPFL to the screen of Nigerians right from the comfort of their home. The deal worths a Billion Naira and will span over a period of 5 years.
This is a very nice effort from the Board of NPFL as bringing the games to the television provides a wider reach for those games within and beyond Nigeria. It also comes with the flair of top football leagues like the English Premier League and Spanish LaLiga.
The role of Social Media
The Social Media played a very big role in rebranding the domestic league in Nigeria. The newly promoted Lagos based side, Sporting Lagos came into the Super 8 tournament with a big social media presence and quickly won the heart of lot of football fans in Nigeria especially after progressing into the final and clinching the trophy. Other Clubs quickly stepped up their social media activities so as to level up and also keep their fans up to date on results and Issues concerning their respective clubs.
The social media activities has also enabled online banters among fans of club sides and even official pages of clubs. This in turn brings about keen interest in the matches and performances of club sides.
Shirt Sponsorship Deals
The rejuvenation of the NPFL has not gone unnoticed by top brands within Nigeria and beyond. NPFL clubs have been able to bag advertising deals with brands of repute. Clubs have been able to secure millions of Naira by having brand names on their shirts as sponsors. Enyimba secured a sponsorship deal with “Stake.com”, an Internationalcryptocurrency based bookmaker as the two-time CAF Champions league winners announced on 18th of August. Bendel Insurance has a sponsorship deal with Sterling Bank, Kano Pillars with Rambo, Enugu Rangers with Afrinvest, Akwa United with 1XBet among others.
These deals are coming in handy for the NPFL Clubs as the financial benefits of these deals will go a long way in managing the Teams.