Players’ Union Tackles Rangers, Others over Outstanding Salaries

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*Threatens clubs with expulsion from CAF competitions

Duro Ikhazuagbe

Champions of the 2015/2016 Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) season, Rangers International Football Club of Enugu and runners up, Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt are on the verge of losing their spots in the CAF Champions League due to indebtedness to their players and officials.

Also listed to miss continental appearance is third-placed team in the just-concluded NPFL season, Wikki Tourists of Bauchi who is listed as one of Nigeria’s flag-bearers in the CAF Confederation Cup.

The umbrella body for professional footballers in the country, the National Association of Nigerian Professional Footballers (NANPF), yesterday warned the three clubs that they stand to be disqualified from the 2017 Confederation of African Football (CAF) competitions if they fail to settle all outstanding debts owed players and coaches.

National Public Relations Officer of the body, Ogidi Mohammed Mutairu, insisted yesterday that Rangers International FC, Rivers United FC, and Wikki Tourists FC must settle the debts or risk being dragged before CAF for the invocation of the Article 3.1of the CAF Club Licensing Regulations.
“We are therefore insisting that this culture of clubs depriving players and coaches of their livelihood must stop,” the statement noted.

A statement from NANPF reads in part: “In the light of the above, we as the recognised labour union passionately championing the cause of professional footballers in Nigeria are concerned that in the midst of the jamboree and fanfare that followed the achievement of these clubs, the purported cash gifts and allocations to these clubs following their success, they (club managements) seemed to have sworn to starve players and coaches of their salaries and as usual disobey NFF Arbitration Committee decisions.”

“Consequently, we have written to these Nigerian clubs that qualified for 2017 CAF competition and their Commissioners for Sports in the respective states, clarifying the following: That It is in the best interest of the players, coaches, the clubs, the country and image of the game, that the management of these clubs liquidate all these debts to current and former players and obey the NFF arbitration decisions without delay.

“That refusal, delay or neglect of payment is a “mortal sin” that will lead to unintended consequences and embarrassments, as these clubs will have to contend with CAF in express breach of Article 3.1 of the CAF Club Licensing Regulations.”

The players’ union claimed to have received complaints from players and coaches that they are heavily huge sums of money in form of salaries and allowances including those of 2014/2015 season.