We’ve Changed NNL Narratives for Good, Says Aluo

Chairman of Nigeria National League, (NNL) Mr. George Aluo, has said that the present board of the second-tier league under his watch has in less than one year in office succeeded in changing the narratives of the most important league in the country even as he commended sportswriters for being partners in progress with the league body.

Speaking with journalists in Lagos as a special guest of the just concluded Paddysco Sports Award, Aluo described the league and Super 8 at Enugu as a huge success noting that the league house will build on the successes recorded to prosecute a more successful league next season.

“The just concluded league was a huge success and let me start by saying a very big thank you to my colleagues. They’ve been wonderful.The support they’ve given us has been massive and don’t forget that football is a media event and as we tried to change the narratives, my colleagues in the media cued in and as such they deserve special recognition for their role in supporting the NNL.

“I decided to single out the media because if we’re doing a good job and the media refuses to put us on the spotlight, we won’t be able to make Nigerians appreciate what we’re doing,” he stressed

Aluo explained that when the present board took over July last year, the NNL was described as cash and carry league while some people described it as Inter House League but in less than one year on the saddle, the perception has changed.

According to him, when the NFF President, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau gave him the mandate to lead the NNL, he felt it was a challenge because he knew that other journalists who have been there before him namely; Fan Ndubuoke, Mitchel Obi, Danladi Bako, Mainasara  Iloh and Paul Bassey performed excellently well and with Aisha Falode being on the board of NFF with him, he has no reason to fail.

“When the NFF President Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau first appointed me as the chairman of NNL, I saw it as a challenge because other journalists before me performed excellently well on the NNL. But today I can beat my chest to say that after one year, we have re- branded the league.

The NNL boss further described the Super 8 as a testimony to the fact that 8 teams that came to Enugu got there on merit and at the end of the day, the best four teams were promoted to the NPFL positing that it was the excellent administrative frame work put in place that enabled an academy team like Beyond Limits to gain promotion to the elite league which goes to show the quality of the league and that there was a level playing ground.

He stated that in their first year in charge, teams now win matches on the road and with excellent result ; the era when teams use money to win home matches became a thing of the past while games are now streamed on television

“We made sure that the era where clubs couldn’t put their matches on television for people to see was stopped because at our AGM in Jos, we said that football is a media event and that clubs must stream their matches.

“Before we came on board, when an away team take their cameras to match venues, they destroy it and I ask these clubs what they are hiding because if you are not hiding anything, you should allow clubs to stream matches live and am happy we succeeded in putting a stop to it.

“At the Super 8, all the matches were actively on television and I want to thank our radio and television partners ; Radio Nigeria and SLTV for taking all the games live and at the end of the day, we succeeded in rebranding the league.

He noted that as part of the rebranding, all referees indemnities were settled from the beginning of the league to the last match in the Super 8, while the winner of this year’s Super 8 got cash prize unlike what was obtainable in the past where no prize money was given.

“You’re aware that when Heartland won the league last season, there was no prize money for them but this year courtesy of an Insurance Company, we were able to give N5 million to the league winners. But this can get better when corporate organisations identify with us.

On referees indemnities, he expressed happiness that it was fully settled unlike in the past when it was a big issue.

” The biggest challenge for the league has always been the issue of referees indemnities but this year we did not owe any referees unlike in the previous seasons when after 4-5 weeks, the referees will be on their own.

“We were able to pay referees indemnities up to the last match of the Super 8. We even increased it courtesy of the NFF . And I want to tell you that the board of the NFF has been very supportive to us and I want to say a very big thank you to them”, he said.

On arguments in some quarters that the Super 8 should be scrapped, Aluo defended retaining it ; saying that it helps determine the true champion of the league.

“At the NNL, we have four conferences and at the end of the season , the two best teams from each of the conferences come to play the Super 8 and what you did at the regular season, you come and replicate it on neutral ground.

“Here it’s no longer a home or away thing and you can see that the four teams that gained promotion to the NPFL are the best in the league; talking about Nasarawa Utd, Beyond Limits, El Kanemi Warriors and Ikorodu City.

“Remember Ikorodu City played relegation play off last season in Kano and this year they got promoted which goes to show that there was a level playing ground. So, I think Super 8 is good because at the end of the season, it affords us the opportunity to take the best teams to the NPFL.

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