Sponsors are still at loggerheads over who owns the rights of the Nigeria league just as club owners are kicking against the change of name adopted by the interim governing body
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Mar. 11, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
THE crisis dogging the Nigeria Premier League over title sponsorship has taken a new dimension. After it was resolved to settle the two-year-old case out of court, both Total Promotions, representing MTN Nigeria and Globacom are again locked in a disagreement over the amount of money that will be paid as compensation for the sponsorship rights. Globacom is accusing Total Promotions of demanding N1.5 billion before it would relinquish the title rights, while the former said it only asked for N250 million.
Funke Akinrele, public relations officer of the Total Promotions, has described the allegation that it demanded N1.5 billion from Globalcom before relinquishing the title rights to the company as a rumour. She said that what the company demanded from Globacom was N250 million as an outright buy-out of the title rights.
“We did not demand N1.5 billion from Globacom. What we told them is that Total Promotions would have made N1.5 billion in television activation if MTN had been allowed to sponsor the league. How they arrived at that N1.5 billion figure is part of their agenda to call dog a bad name so that they can hang it. But it will never work. Nigerians are too enlightened to be hoodwinked by the interim body. We are not a charity organisation. We got the title rights because we are in business and we won’t have to fold up because we demanded for a buy-out which is the norm everywhere in the world. We want to stress that at no time did Total Promotions demand for N1.5 billion neither did we go back on our concession to pass the title rights to Glo. But the snag was the inability to work out an agreeable term,” she said.
But Mohamed Jameel, chief operating officer of Globacom Group, claimed that Total Promotions had refused to relinquish the title sponsorship of the league to them as agreed. It further said that Total Promotions’ position on a final settlement of N1.5 billion, negates the commendable efforts being made by the minister at finding a mutually acceptable solution to the dispute.
“We firmly believe that Total Promotions does not deserve the N100 million compensation we agreed. But by accepting the terms, Glo was only responding to the minister’s patriotic call for all parties concerned to cease fire in overriding national interest. We want to stress that we have a good case in court but our decision to abide by the terms of settlement is therefore an altruistic sacrifice to prevent the Nigeria Premier League from suffering any further haemorrhage,” he said.
Earlier this year, Bolaji Abdullahi, sport minister, after a meeting with all the stakeholders, reportedly resolved the controversy surrounding the sponsorship of the Nigerian league and named Globacom as the sponsor for the next three seasons. Having done that, he expressed satisfaction that he had been able to end the crisis over the title rights of the league.
“I am happy that we are able to resolve this issue out of court with all the parties involved. We agreed that Globacom would be the title sponsor of the league for three seasons, and would also pay N100 million to Total Promotions as compensation for giving out the rights,” Abdullahi said. The agreement for compensation had been brokered by the interim management committee set up by the sports ministry.
Meanwhile, the club owners have rejected the attempt by the interim committee to rename the Nigeria Premier League as Nigeria Professional League. They also kicked against an abridged 2012/13 league season. The Club owners have also threatened to boycott any abridged edition of the league in whatever name it may be called. It is believed that the interim body wants a name change for fear of litigation but the stakeholders would not have any of it. The season is expected to take off on March 9, but it was still unclear if the new date would still be kept even though the federal government has pledged funds to start the league.