NPFL to kick off November 24
By Clement Nwankpa Jr.
If everything goes according to plans, the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) will commence on November 24 with the Pool A while the pool B begins on November 25.
Naijasportsgrill.com.ng checks revealed that League Management Company (LMC) organisers of the league have put modalities in place to ensure this date is actualised.
To this end, a comprehensive programme has been drawn up to make the process seamless with the traditional preseason tournament and AGM billed for early November.
LMC is committed to harmonising NPFL with the global football calendar hence the need to resume early enough as well as the abridged nature of the 2018/19 season.
Due to the inconclusiveness of last season, a decision was reached by the clubs to let table toppers as at matchday 24, Lobi Stars represent Nigeria in next year’s CAF Champions League.
It was also agreed that no team would be relegated just as four teams will be promoted from the NNL.
This means 24 teams will feature in the 2018/19 season with two groups of 12 teams each playing an abridged version of the league.
The season should end next summer, early enough not to clash with the African Cup of Nations which comes up in June.
The 2018/19 season should end before next summer’s AFCON.
If this process by LMC is not truncated, they would have succeeded in ensuring the NPFL transfer windows and kickoff is in tandem with the global calendar. This should check the issue of NPFL clubs losing players to European teams at the peak of the season.
A major snag to the programme drawn up by LMC is the NNL which is still on as promoted teams from the NNL will be involved in the NPFL draw as well as preseason programmes.
Plans in the past seasons for the NPFL to start before the new year in a bid to harmonise the league with the global calendar had been stalled but LMC is bent on surmounting the odds this time and making the November 24 kickoff date a reality.
Meanwhile, NPFL teams have intensified resumption and preseason activities preparatory to league resumption.
Organisers of traditional preseason tournaments such as Gold Cup and South East/South South Tournament are also not lagging behind.