Champions of the 2015/16 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season stand to win N40m from the Merit Award of the League Management Company (LMC). Rangers International of Enugu and Rivers United of Port Harcourt are the two clubs in contention for the big prize money from a total of N200m pool set aside by the LMC as reward for final position on the league table at the end of the season on Sunday.
Last season, the highest payout from the Merit Award which went to Enyimba International was N30m from a total pool of N150m and this year’s figure of N200m represents an increase of 25 per cent.
The Merit Award pool has been witnessing an annual progression from N50m in 2012/13 to N75m in 2013/14 season and now N200m. The top three Clubs on the final table usually received the chunk of the Merit Award which supports the clubs financially in their preparation for the CAF Club competitions the next season.
According to figures released by the LMC, the champions would have received a minimum of N90m in all direct payments for the 2016 season including the Basic Award which comprises of pool of funds shared equally amongst all the 20 participating clubs, the Merit Award paid to clubs based on their final position on the table, the Football Development and the Bonus Award which is paid to clubs based on performances including incentives for improving match attendance, away wins/draw, fielding players under the age of 18 years and hosting live broadcast matches.
The lowest placed team in the NPFL this season would thus have received up to N55m in direct payments from the LMC from all payment centres.
A statement from the LMC explained that “in addition to the direct payments clubs do also benefit from other indirect payments such as free registration of players and officials, free insurance, payment of match officials’ indemnities and hotel accommodation as well as sponsored seminars and other engagements funded by the LMC”.
The Flying Antelopes are three points ahead of Rivers United with the Enugu team hosting El-Kanemi Warriors at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium now called The Cathedral by Enugu fans needing a point to guarantee the title while Rivers United goes hunting for three points in Uyo against Akwa United. The Port Harcourt side will seek to win big while hoping that Rangers will falter against their visitors.