Four Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) clubs have been charged by the League Management Company (LMC) for various breaches bothering on failure to provide adequate security and unacceptable supporters behavior even as match officials involved in three of the ten games of Match Day 32 also received queries. The Chairman of Heartland FC Supporters Club, one Iyke Jacob was handed a six match ban for acts of intimidation and harassment of Referees. Enyimba’s Coach, Khadiri Ikhana was also charged for making public comments that are deemed inimical to the promotion of the league and was fined N100, 000.
Nasarawa United, Giwa FC, Abia Warriors and Heartland FC were fined minimum of half a million Naira as the LMC exercised Summary Jurisdiction after thorough investigation of reported crowd incidences during the matches involving the four sides.
In the various notices of Summary Jurisdiction signed by the LMC Chief Operating Officer, Salihu Abubakar and sent to the clubs, they were issued the statutory 48 hours notice to submit to the decisions of the LMC or indicate in written response a choice to appear before a panel.
The LMC ruled that comments made by Ikhana during a post match interview did not portray the league in good light contrary to his responsibilities as a Manager under article 14 of the Code of Conduct for Managers and Coaches.
In specific rulings concerning the affected clubs, Giwa FC as hosts of the fixture against Kano Pillars was cited for breach of Article C1 and B15.16 and consequently fined N500, 000 and N250, 000. For the unruly behavior of their fans which Article B15.16 makes clear is a responsibility of the club, Giwa FC was fined N500, 000 while another fine of N250, 000 was imposed on the club for failure to ensure adequate security at match venue. Recalling that Giwa FC had been cautioned after Match Day 1 against Abia Warriors for similar breach, the club was issued a final warning failing which it will be subjected to a stadium ban to supporters and or relocated to a neutral venue.
Nasarawa United was also cited for unruly conduct of their fans in the match against Lobi Stars, fined N500, 000 and warned against a repeat which will lead to stadium ban to supporters and relocation to neutral venue.
Like Nasarawa United, Abia Warriors and Heartland were also fined N500, 000 for unruly behavior of fans and failure to provide hitch free match day experience. Abubakar said “the sanctions are a demonstration of the LMC’s strong objection to failure on the part of clubs to provide hitch-free match day experiences for the thousands of fans who have since the implementation of various reform initiatives been returning to the stadiums for NPFL games”.
On the Referees, Referee I. Indabawa from Kano and his two Assistants from Kwara State, M. Surakat and S. O Toyin were recommended for investigation by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Referees Appointment Committee for below par performance in the Abia Warriors vs Rangers fixture. Also recommended for investigation was Assistant Referee A. Bulus from Abuja for deficiencies in the handling of the Heartland FC vs Enyimba match while the Center Referee, B. Odey from Abuja was reprimanded and advised to improve performance and control of match proceedings. James Amadin from Edo State also received a reprimand and caution to improve match management. The Referees recommended for investigation were also requested to be withdrawn from further handling of matches in the NPFL until after the conclusion of investigation.
The LMC said it has increased match monitoring to ensure that clubs maintained the decorum that has prevailed all through the season and cautioned that “we can not allow some fans still steeped in the old order to bring to disrepute the integrity, pleasant match day experiences and increased positive public perception of the league”. Abubakar said the “LMC is aware that majority of the thousands of fans who throng league venues are law abiding, passionate lovers of the game and we assure these loyal fans that they will be protected to enjoy the improving quality of our matches at all times”.