A delegation of Spanish Premier League board, the La Liga led by its President, Javier Tesba, arrived Nigeria early hours of yesterday to a warm welcome by representatives of the Nigerian and Spanish governments who separately remarked that the technical partnership initiated by La Liga and the League Management Company (LMC) holds a huge prospect of deepening sporting, cultural and commercial ties between the two nations.

Tesba and his team were led by the top hierarchy of Nigeria’s football governing body including President Amaju Pinnick and LMC Chairman, Mallam Shehu Dikko to the office of Nigeria’s Youth and Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung and later to the Residence of the Ambassador of Spain to Nigeria, Alfonso Barnuevo Sebastián de Erice.

Dalung in his welcome remarks reaffirmed the commitment of the Nigerian government towards making Nigeria investment friendly by providing the enabling environment for such partnership between the LMC and the La Liga to succeed.

Dalung commended the LMC for keying into the policy thrust of government for the development of the elite league which provides jobs for thousands of youths through the 20 clubs and stimulating business activities within the areas matches are played.

“The league in Nigeria is indeed a major tool for social cohesion. Government is committed to putting in place, enabling administrative and legal frameworks for international business partnerships,” the minister observed.

According to Dalung, government will work with and support the managers of football in the country for meaningful projects like the international collaboration with Spain.

“It is of significance that the NPFL and La Liga are entering into an understanding that will improve the business aspects of the league in Nigeria. Such areas will boost the earnings of football which will in turn impact positively on the welfare of the players while creating new frontiers for business” Dalung said.

Ambassador Barnuevo while receiving the delegation of LMC and La Liga noted that the partnership will strengthen the already strong cultural and trade ties between his country and Nigeria, stating that “at the moment, Spain is the third biggest buyer of Nigeria’s crude oil”.

On the occasion, the Chairman LMC, Shehu Dikko said discussions that led to the partnership that will be signed today in Abuja was initiated at that inaugural World Leagues Forum meeting in London in 2015.

“Our objective is to be able to move with the times. We need to get our league to conform to international standards and best practices. La Liga is one of the best leagues in the world. They have some of the richest clubs in the world and they have a system which is very attractive to us. The structure and management of their clubs is fantastic as well as the way the government and the clubs relate. They also have legislation by the government to ensure that the league is developed. We need to learn how they’re doing”, Dikko said.

Tebas, the La Liga president expressed delight at the prospects of sharing experiences with the NPFL, noting that while they will be providing technical assistance to the LMC in the administration of the league, they also will in turn learn something from Nigeria.

“We are here not only to teach but to share experience and we are sure we can also learn from the Nigerian Professional Football League.

“This exchange of experience will help us to grow and we’ll ratify this in Nigeria during this visit with a Memorandum of Understanding.

“Football is not only a commercial issue but also an example of values especially for youths in any country and the La Liga will like to help develop these values for the Nigerian youths. We want to use the names of our stars to transmit the values of the sport. We will also offer our expertise not only to football but to the Nigerian government,” Tebas assured Nigerians.

Pinnick was at the head of the Nigerian team during the visit to the minister alongside the LMC Chief Executive Officer, Hon. Nduka Irabor, NFF Executive Board Member, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau and Chairman of Club Owners and Managers of the NPFL, Isaac Danladi.

Accompanying the La Liga president were Melcior Soler, the Director of Audiovisual Affairs, Fernando Sanz, International Projects Director and Antonio Baradas, Manager, African Affairs.