NPFL Finale: Brand New Champion, Old Problems, Bright Future

first_imgThe Nigerian Professional Football League season draws to a close today with a first-time champion guaranteed to emerge. After 37 grueling games, the shootout for the crown is between Plateau United and MFM FC. Just one point separates the two sides, so this is far from decided. On paper Plateau have the advantage as they host off-colour defending champions Rangers, while MFM travel to mid-table El-Kanemi. If there was ever a time the church-owned MFM needed fire and miracles from the heavens, now is that time. Not only do they have to beat El-Kanemi away, they would need Rangers to do them a favour by getting a result in Jos. Many would probably say Plateau deserve the title after leading topping the table for much of the season, but MFM, who ironically barely survived relegation in their maiden appearance in the top-flight last season, have had a brilliant season themselves. May the best team win.OLD PROBLEMSPoor sponsorship – clearly, poor sponsorship remains a sad problem despite the stability and improvement the league has enjoyed in recent years. Star Lager remains the one big local brand behind the league, while TV broadcaster Supersport, who have been a heavy financial backer of the NPFL in recent years, have opted to scale down their role. Most of our other big brands involved in football still rather sponsor the English Premier League, even at a time of economic recession when we desperately need to build local industry. Somebody needs to tell our captains of industry that that is an illogical business strategy that will only serve to shrink their own businesses over time. Go figure. Poor remunerations – listening to the legendary Etim Esin on radio this week, he spoke about how as a player in the local league in 1987 he was given a 505 Evolution with full options (then a favourite of society’s rich) as part of his package by his club. At the time he was only a teenager. 30 years on and the league has gone backwards in terms of remunerating players. I have always argued that this needs to change because without good player wages the league would be starved of the stars it needs to pull in large crowds.Sparse crowds – while the football quality is clearly improving, sparsely-filled stadiums remain demotivating for players, fans and sponsors. There needs to be carefully orchestrated programs that ensure the league is woven into the lifestyles of fans such that it becomes a part of them and not just a nationalistic duty.Staff turnover – the turnover of players and coaches is still a huge worry. Players also disappearing midseason to scout for contracts overseas must be discouraged. The league must do more to protect coaches from trigger-happy egocentric administrators who dish out all sorts of incredulous ultimatums to coaches whenever results don’t go their way. The League Management Company should make it standard for coaches to have tough severance packages in their contracts.Unpaid wages – the problem of unpaid wages remains a huge one for the league. Ahead of this weekend players of Shooting Stars went on strike to demand that their outstanding wages be paid. While there has been some improvement from last season, this remains an sore point that diminishes the progress the league is making.Poor officiating – this above all else this is probably the biggest problem the league has. This affects the integrity of the league and negatively impacts everyone from players to fans and sponsors. Of particular concern is that there are still unacceptably few away wins. Many blame officiating, with some saying this creates a mentality problem for traveling teams who see away games as almost unwinnable. The LMC must reserve the stiffest sanctions for erring referees.BRIGHT FUTUREStability – in spite of the above problems, it is clear there are many positives. Top on my list is the stability in the league. The fixtures were handled smoothly and there were comparatively fewer controversies. Even when there was a problem with the broadcast company and many feared that this would disrupt the games, the LMC marched ahead seamlessly.TV content – in the new season, and as a fallout of the problems with Supersport, the league is in the process of setting up its own TV production arm to record its games. This is the practice in the most advanced parts of the world because TV content drives sports revenues. Total control of the production of the content is critical to the financial success of the league.The game – the quality of the football has also been on the up. Who can forget the stunning goal scored by MFM’s Sikiru Olatunbosun against Rangers? The footage went viral around the world and was even named the CNN Goal of the Week. More players also had goals that would look stunning wherever they are scored in the world.Lai Mohammed – I think the most significant contribution to the future of our league came from the minister of youth and culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed recently. His stance that local brands sponsoring foreign leagues and clubs should be made to pay a 30% tax on their sponsorship fee for the development of the local league is bang on the money.Leadership – in spite of the numerous odds they have faced, the LMC leadership of Alhaji Shehu Dikko, ably supported by Honourable Nduka Irabor, continues to keep the league on an upward trajectory. These guys are far from perfect, but increasingly they have more among us believing again that it is only a matter of time before the league returns to the heights it reached in the 70s and 80s.Media – the media looks to be waking up to its responsibility to promote the league. There are many more stories about the NPFL in our newspapers, television and radio sports programmes as well as on social media. You suspect that this has more to do with the stability and consistency in the league than a matter of enlightened self-interest. There is still way too much focus on European football and many times these stories dwarf the local news. But there is progress, and long may it reign.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

Intercity Transit Seeks Public Comment On Transportation Improvement Projects

first_imgSubmitted by Intercity TransitOlympia/Thurston County, WA – Intercity Transit, the public transportation agency for Thurston County, invites public comment on potential federally funded transit projects proposed in the agency’s 2014-2016 Transportation Improvement Program and its 2013 revised project list. The Intercity Transit Authority, the governing board for the agency, will review all comments made prior to and any made at the public hearing on Wednesday, July 3, 2013. The public hearing will occur at Intercity Transit’s business office, 526 Pattison Street SE, in Olympia (just off Pacific Avenue and I-5 exit 107). Routes 62A, 62B, and 66 serve this location.Once the Transit Authority approves the projects outlined in its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), the projects are subject to review by the respective regional planning organizations (Thurston Regional Planning Council-TRPC and Puget Sound Regional Council –PSRC) that have responsibility for integration in their Regional Transportation Improvement Programs (RTIP). Projects in RTIPs become part of the State Transportation Improvement Program, which is subject to federal transportation agency review.The currently proposed TIP projects total more than $25 million in combined federal and local funds for the revised 2013 and 2014-2016 time frame. Projects for which Intercity Transit has programmed potential funding for 2014-2016 and project revisions for 2013 are:Preventive maintenance of buses and vans which helps extend the life cycle of vehicles;Purchase of hybrid, biodiesel-electric coaches to replace older buses;Federal funding to continue Walk-n-Roll youth transportation partnerships;Purchase of vanpool vans;Bus stop enhancements to improve accessibility and safety;Additional funding for the engineering and construction of the Olympia Transit Center expansion, in order to address current capacity issues, andA Smart Corridor Project related to regional traffic signal prioritization to enhance operational efficiency for the transit system.The draft TIP represents Intercity Transit’s complete program of potential federally funded projects for 2014 through 2016 plus a revised project list for 2013 including projects programmed through both TRPC and PSRC.Copies of the draft Intercity Transit TIP for federally funded projects are available at Intercity Transit’s business office, 526 Pattison Street SE, Olympia. The office is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Information is also available online at of the public may comment at the public hearing or by writing, calling, or emailing Intercity Transit. All advance comments must be received by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Send comments to [email protected], 360.705.5852, or to Grants Program Administrator, Development Department, Intercity Transit, P.O. Box 659, Olympia, WA 98507-0659l. Questions may be directed to Bob Holman, Grants Program Administrator, by mail to the above address, at (360) 705-5885, or by email at [email protected] Facebook0Tweet0Pin0last_img read more

India climbs to 96th spot in FIFA Rankings, closes in at an all time high

first_imgIndia’s state of football is finally looking up as the team’s FIFA world football rankings has improved by four spots. The Indian national football is now at the 96th spot in the FIFA rankings. Indian Football Team broke into the top 100 recently.This is the best ranking for the the Indian Football team in 21 years. The current ranking is a big respite for India as it stood at 173rd rank back in March 2015 and has been averaging at the 134th rank for more than a year.India’s best ever FIFA ranking was in 1996 when India reached the 94th spot. Captain and Coaching StaffCaptain: Gurpreet Singh SandhuHead coach: Stephen Constantine from EnglandAssistant coach: Shanmugam Venkatesh from IndiaGoalkeeping coach: Brazil Rogerio Ramos from BrazilSports Scientist: Danny Deigan from AustraliaAIFF Technical Director: Savio Medeira from IndiaThe current top 5 teams in FIFA are:GermanyBrazilArgentinaPortugalSwitzerlandAbout the FIFA rankings:The FIFA World Rankings ranks the men’s national teams in association footballThe rankings were first introduced in the year 1992The teams are ranked based on their game results of all FIFA-recognised full international matchesThe FIFA rankings are currently led by GermanyTeams like Brazil, Argentina, France, Italy and Spain have also held top positions previously. Interested in General Knowledge and Current Affairs? Click here to stay informed and know what is happening around the world with our G.K. and Current Affairs section.To get more updates on Current Affairs, send in your query by mail to [email protected]last_img read more