By Abiodun Adewale.
Affected clubs in Group A of the abridged 2022/23 Nigeria Professional Football League have expressed displeasure over the proposed date for the Super 6 play-offs by the Interim Management Committee of the league.
In a letter sent to the clubs, which was obtained by our correspondent, the IMC proposed Tuesday May 23 to Saturday June 3 for the Super 6 play-offs, while the regular season in Group B would end on Sunday May 21.
According to the IMC, the need to accommodate the outstanding fixtures of Rivers United necessitated the shift in schedule, while match-day 18 will be completed in Group A on May 14 as scheduled.
The proposed schedule leaves potential top-three teams for the play-off in Group B with just two days to make the trip to Lagos, venue of the Super 6.
“How can a club play a match away from home and you’re asking the club to report after two days for other crucial games like the play-offs?” Lobi Stars Chairman, Dominic Iorfa queried.
“Latest reporting time will be Thursday for Saturday or Sunday to kick off my take on the matter,” he added.
Another club official in the mix, who spoke on condition of anonymity, suggested that the halt in match-day 18 games till May 21 should have affected both groups.
“My honest take on this is that all the last week matches for the two groups should be suspended till all outstanding matches have been concluded.
“Secondly, all the six teams for the play-offs will finish their league matches on the same day and report to Lagos at the same time. No club will feel cheated. IMC should look critically into this, as it is not the fault of the clubs that some fixtures were postponed.”
Meanwhile, the IMC has rescheduled all three outstanding games of Rivers United in the run-in to the end of the regular season.
The reigning champions will on Thursday (today) face Wikki Tourists in Bauchi before welcoming Sunshine Stars to Port Harcourt on Monday May 15 and Doma United Thursday May 18.
The management of Wikki Tourists said they sensed foul play in their rescheduled fixture against Rivers United.
The match was earlier scheduled to take place last month but was postponed due to Rivers United’s engagement in the CAF Confederation Cup.
“According to the NPFL fixtures, Rivers are supposed to play match-day 12 (Sunshine Stars) before Wikki Tourists, therefore we hereby tender our complain that all matches should be played according to the fixtures of the league for fairness and integrity,” Wikki stated in a letter to the IMC dated May 5.
The league body however reiterated that the fixture was rearranged in order to complete the season within the timeframe given by the NFF.
“Please note that according to Rule B13.8 of the framework and rules of the league, the NPFL has the power to at any time change the date upon which a league match is to be played.”
“In view of the above therefore, the management of Wikki Tourists Football Club of Bauchi still buttress our stand that the match should be played according to the fixtures of the NPFL 2022/23 season because we suspect foul play and match-fixing to favour another team.
“We will be at ease when the schedule of fixtures is followed accordingly so as to bring sanity and dismiss suspicion from the committee.”