As this season’s Glo Nigeria Premier League, NPL, season ends today Sunday, 20 October, 2013 with match-day 38 matches holding simultaneously across the country, one question on the lips of football loving Nigerians is; ‘Who takes home the title and top prize money of N10 million?
Obviously, three clubs; Kano Pillars, Bayelsa United and El-Kanemi Warriors are in pole positions to grab the trophy and cash, courtesy of sponsors; Globacom.
Pillars sit comfortably on the NPL log with 63 points from 37 matches, but they may miss the title if they lose to Lobi Stars, (which is likely) and either Bayelsa or El-kanemi win their last matches against Gombe and Rangers respectively.
Bayelsa, can only end up winning the title if they increase their 61 points, but can they beat Gombe in Gombe and finish with 64 points?
For El-Kanemi, their 60 points also put them among the contenders, but they are up against Rangers International at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium in Enugu. Will the Flying Antelopes disappoint their fans in Enugu? These are endless questions which would be answered after today’s matches.
One good thing about the NPL this season is that no team is sure of winning the league shield until the last whistle is blown, meaning it will be a photo-finish.
The People’s Elephant. Enyimba of Aba are poised to finish in the second position and qualify for the CAF Champions League, but they must scale the hurdle of Sharks of Port Harcourt at the Aba township.
Even, the teams battling to escape relegation, apart from Shooting Stars Sports Club, 3SC of Ibadan that are confirmed for the drop to the National League, the other three candidates would only be known after the last round games.
About 13 teams, especially the clubs that have between 49 to 52 points still have their fates hanging in the balance.
What could save clubs such as; Warri Wolves, Dolphins, Lobi, Gombe and may be Nembe is that they are playing their last games at home, but their visitors may prove too tough when hostilities begin.
However, Chairman of the League Management Company, LMC, Nduka Irabor, says the NPL is ending on a competitive note this season, and defended the rationale behind the cash incentives doled out to all the participating clubs.
“We are paying all the clubs including the ones to be relegated for their efforts in the NPL this season because the LMC want to change the phase of the league in Nigeria, and we are happy that the competition is ending well”, Irabor said after the week 37 match between Sunshine Stars and Enyimba at the the Akure Township Stadium in Ondo State.
Irabor said the LMC will present about N50m to all the teams that participated in the 2013 season. From the total package, the winners and runners up will take N10m and N7.5m respectively, while the third and fourth positions will take N5m and N2.5m respectively.
The LMC says it would also pay the clubs that finish in the 5th, 6th and 7th positions the sum of N2.1m, N1.95m and N1.9m, while the 8th, 9th and 10th placed teams will get N1.85m, N1.8m and N1.75m in that order.
The cash incentives will also reach the 11th, 12th and 13th positions, as the LMC will pay them N1.7m, N1.65m and N1.6m respectively.
The last seven teams on the table would not be left out of the booty, as the LMC promised to pay them thus; 14th gets the sum of N1.5m, 15th gets N1.4m, 16th will receive N1.3m, 17th to take home N1.25m, 18th will get N1.2m and 19th will be paid N1.05m, while the last, 3Sc will get N1m.