By Duro Ikhazuagbe
After emerging as the first country to qualify for the World Cup 2018 in Russia with a game to spare last October, kit manufacturer, NIKE, has opened talks with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) with the hope of extending the shirt sponsorship with the Super Eagles.
THISDAY learnt at the weekend that the kit manufacturing giant was very impressed with the three-time African champions and is now willing to open discussions on an improved package that will be better than the previous one that had no cash backing.
A top Nigerian football official hinted on Saturday that the new NIKE deal with Eagles is likely to be concluded before Nigeria begins campaign at Russia 2018 against Croatia.
â€œ This time around what we are discussing with NIKE is an improved package beyond the kit-only deal we were offered the last time when Adidas refused to renew the shirt sponsorship with Super Eagles,â€ revealed the official who did not want his name in print.
The cheery news about the new deal on the table is that for the first time, the NFF is having direct dealings with the sportswear manufacturer instead of going through a third party.
â€œWe have been able to eliminate the third party relationship that had always existed in the dealings with Nike over the decades. This time, we are directly dealing with the world-renowned sports equipment giants unlike in the past where the packages are virtually released through the agents of the company,â€ THISDAY further learnt.
Â â€œBoth sides have been talking and our teams are almost concluding the draft. The target is to conclude the deal and sign before the World Cup starts and that is very possible now given the level of work already done.
â€œA lot of events are usually lined up immediately after the World Cup and we all agree that it is best to work things out now. And we are very positive that the final result will make a lot of positive impact on the brand Super Eagles and the fortunes of the team and Nigeria as a country at the World Cup. Itâ€™s all very good. I am not sure we have ever had the kind of package we are getting this time,â€ stressed the reliable source.
â€œWe have been able to prove that the federation works 100 per cent on corporate governance as seen in the best practices all over the world. The trust has continually attracted more and more sponsors and this is all good for the Super Eagles brand and Nigeria.â€
If the deal pulls through, state FAs are going to be part of the deal.
â€œThe target is to make NIKE products accessible to the states and to make merchandising a lot easier in Nigeria. The NFF is already working on building mini secretariats and standard practice pitches for the states and the Nike angle is meant to complement those plans,â€ concludes the top football official,