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Business

Super League: Is an African Super League feasible?

The Super League structure which has failed in Europe may be the catalyst needed to save African football.

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The European Football scene was hit early this week with news of the European Super League announcement, with 12 teams from 3 European nations, namely England, Spain, and Italy confirming their participation, with no representatives from Germany and France.

The founding teams were AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético de Madrid, Chelsea, FC Barcelona, FC Internazionale Milano, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur.

The league, which would have hosted Europe’s richest clubs except for Bayern and Dortmund, got news of a financial boost as JP Morgan Chase, a US investment bank, also announced on Monday that it is funding the new season of the breakout league, the European Super League in a €4 billion ($4.8 billion) bet. The teams in the league were expected to share €3.5 billion ($4.21 billion) to spend on infrastructure and rehabilitation from the COVID-19 pandemic by a private corporation that will own the league.

READ: Billionaire, Uzor Kalu wants to buy 35% stake in Arsenal FC

However, by Tuesday evening, the Super League was pretty much dead, as the announcements precipitated anger from fans, footballers, ex-players and pundits all calling for the idea of a Super League to be killed. Later that evening, all six English clubs announced their withdrawal from the breakaway European Super League following protests and furious condemnations from the football community including football’s governing bodies.

Arsenal apologised for their ‘mistake’ saying: “As a result of listening to you and the wider football community over recent days we are withdrawing from the proposed Super League. We made a mistake, and we apologise for it.”

The European Super League idea failed because football is not only a sport in Europe, it’s a mega money-making institution, used to whitewash dictatorships (PSG-Qatar) and to generate billions in direct and indirect revenue for governments.

However, the reverse is the case in Africa, where the only semblance of a properly structured league football are in South Africa and the North African Leagues. Add the fact that European Football is easily available, and you get a situation where young Africans would rather watch midtable European league football than the CAF Champions league for Africa.

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FIFA’s solution

In 2020, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, disclosed that there are talks of an African Super League which he says can generate revenues of $200 million in a radical plan to reform African football.

“I want to create a real pan-African league that would feature 20-24 clubs with a maximum of maybe two clubs per country that would still play in their national leagues but that would play during the year so we can really crown the club champions of Africa,” Infantino said. “We have had some serious problems in Africa and it has to change. It has to change the way we do the business of football, it has to take on board the basic elements of good governance. There needs to be proper competition infrastructure. I think it is fair to say that competitions in Africa are 30-to-40 times less successful than in Europe.”

“The talks of an African Super League obviously did not generate much pushbacks as local African football needs all the help it can get,” according to Olaoluwa Aro of Maxisport International representing players including Abubakar Ghali of AS Trencin in Slovakia and Akinkunmi Amoo of Hammerby in Sweden. He argues that the African Super League would be a huge boost to Nigerian talent as it will build competitiveness and improve the general local football value chain.

“The proposed African Super League would definitely be a huge benefit for Nigerian players because, it will further expose our talents beyond Nigeria. The event would be more competitive as more of Local league players would strive hard to announce themselves when the showpiece kickstarts. Additionally, it would enable our local coaches to field the right players because most of them want to make a name like top African coaches,” he said.

On the objection to African Super League in Nigeria so far

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Olaoluwa adds that he sees no objection as it would be financially beneficial to the teams that take part in the league.

“There wouldn’t be objection of such on our local front,” he said.

“The African Super League would force all the football stakeholders in Nigeria to move away from antiquated structures of football. The Super League would bring Money to the local clubs because, one of the unseen benefits of the impending event is Market Value. FIFA Understood that African football needs proper reshaping in all its facets; hence, they have used political “will” to install a visionary as the new CAF president. Another advantage for local teams in Nigeria is creating awareness about how talented we are but not having a good platform to stardom (which FIFA is trying to create) is hindering many future football stars,” he added.

What needs to be done to improve Nigerian league football

Olaoluwa adds that Nigeria needs to focus on 3 major area to improve local league football development, including Restructuring, Grassroots Development and Infrastructure. His thought are captured below.

Restructuring

The current structure of the system needs to be changed comprehensively. The NFF “statute” does not really give rooms for proper and modern football structures. The administrators need to create an enabling environment for the private sector to come into the system and contribute to developing the game from the grassroot.

Grassroot development

He calls for larger investment in the space as Nigeria losses out on refining proper talents. Modern programs for developing talents are yet to be implemented in Nigeria and the NFF needs to periodically organise events that create an avenue for proper and systematic growth and transition.

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Infrastructure

The Nigeria Football system as a matter of urgency needs to establish a law that would enable football Academies have modern football facilities before issuing them licenses. Academies without proper facilities are one of the reasons Nigeria fails to produce quality players locally.

Note, Football Academies have moved more players abroad than NPFL clubs in the last few years. Players like Osimeh, Nwakali brothers, Simon Moses, Chukuweze, Ndidi, and Ihanacho were all products of Academies thus, the NFF should design a good structure for owing an Academy.

Sponsorship and TV right:

Football is business and not just a recreational activity. No sponsor would do business with your league without proper protection and projection of the league. Club owners are not innovatively running the system, they have made the ecosystem an enclosed one. Government needs to hands off from 100% control of the football system. Most of the appointees are cronies of the government who don’t care about the development of the game except government subventions. Most of our NPFL teams do not even have Jersey endorsement deals compared to North and South Africa. We must change holistically, the governance structure in football.

Bottomline

Like the saying goes, “one man’s poison is another man’s meat,” the Super League structure which has failed in Europe may be the catalyst needed to save African football as neither the fans nor the clubs would rebuff an opportunity to earn proper sponsorship and matchday revenue, a luxury most African football clubs do not currently enjoy.

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Business

CBN’s Emefiele vows to reject the continuous importation of maize in Nigeria

The CBN has said that it will oppose all attempts to continue the importation of maize into the country.

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Banks' stakeholders express 4 main concerns bothering the sector right now, CBN, MARKET UPDATE: CBN’s historic agriculture lending; Is it yielding the desired results? 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that it will oppose all attempts to continue the importation of maize into the country.

This is geared towards encouraging local production as the apex bank believes that maize farmers in Nigeria have what it takes to close the maize demand gap of over 4.5 million metric tonnes in the country.

This was made known by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele while speaking in Katsina on Thursday during the unveiling of the first maize pyramid and inauguration of the 2021 maize wet season farming under the CBN-Maize Association of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

READ: Nigeria must eat what we produce, agriculture is the way out – Buhari

Emefiele said, “With over 50,000 bags of maize available on this ground, and others aggregated across the country, maize farmers are sending a resounding message that we can grow enough maize to meet the country’s demand.’

He explained that the maize unveiled at the ceremony would be sold to reputable feed processors adding that this would in turn impact positively on current poultry feed prices, as over 60% of maize produced in the country were used for producing poultry feed.

Emefiele said that the apex bank was ready to provide support to the youths that are willing to engage in agriculture and encouraged them to embrace agriculture.

READ: Nigeria secures $1.2 billion loan from Brazil for agriculture modernization

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Speaking at the event, the Katsina State Governor, Bello Masari, said the state had suffered a setback in agriculture as over 60,000 hectares of farmlands were uncultivated due to insurgency, which hindered farmers from gaining access to their means of livelihood.

On his part, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, while unveiling the pyramids, reassured the farmers, processors and other value chain participants, of the support of government towards ensuring that they perform optimally.

What you should know

It can be recalled that in July 2020, the CBN included maize importation to its list of 41 items banned from assessing forex at the official market as it directed all banks/authorised dealers to immediately discontinue the processing of Forms M for maize/corn importation into the country.

The apex bank in its circular said that this measure is aimed at increasing local production of the commodity, stimulating a rapid economic recovery, safeguarding rural livelihoods and increasing jobs.

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Business

FG releases N29.1 billion advance for deployment of Covid-19 vaccines

The FG has announced the release of N29.1 billion to the NPHCDA as an advance for the operational cost of deployment of the Covid-19 vaccines.

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Power: Mambilla Power Project not prioritised by Ministry of Power for 2021 Budget - Finance Minister

The Federal Government has announced the release of N29.1 billion to the National Primary Health Development Agency (NPHCDA) as an advance for the operational cost of deployment of the Covid-19 vaccines.

This is as the government has expressed its commitment to procuring 29.588 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine through the AVAT initiative, coordinated by AFREXIMBank,

This disclosure was made by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed while speaking at ‘Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI) General Assembly webinar on Friday.

What the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning is saying

Ahmed in her statement said, “Therefore, the supplementary budget for COVID-19 vaccines will cover the cost of additional vaccines over and above those provided by COVAX, as well as the full cost of operations and logistics for delivering the vaccines around the country.

“Already, the sum of N29.1bn has been released from the Routine Immunization budgetary provision (Service Wide Vote) to the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) as an advance for the operational cost of deployment of the COVID-19 vaccines. The N29.1bn represents about 52 percent of the amount required over 2021-22”, she said.

Mrs Ahmed stated at the 18th General Assembly of CABRI that the World Bank has indicated willingness to provide needed facilities in support of the country’s Covid-19 vaccination plan.

Considering key elements of Nigeria’s vaccine financing strategy, she said that the government is working on a supplementary budget to provide for the cost of vaccine procurement and delivery

She said, “The Federal Ministry of Health plans to vaccinate 70 per cent of eligible (18 years and above) Nigerians over the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years.”

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She noted that the nation has received commitments from COVAX for Covid-19 vaccines that could cover 43.1 million of the eligible population, as donations from some development partners.

On the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the oil price crash on the Nigerian economy, she noted that prior to the pandemic, implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-20, prudent resource management and fiscal policy implementation had resulted in 11 consecutive quarters of GDP growth, with GDP growth rising from 1.91% in 2018 to 2.27% in 2019.

Mrs Ahmed also noted that “the government had begun the process of moving our economy away from its primary dependence on oil for revenues and foreign exchange, and we’re making steady gains in addressing infrastructure and human capital challenges.”

 

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