Four years ago, I remember walking into the office of a Nigerian Premier League Club General Manager to discuss the above topic. I had figured out that a club with some much pedigree and support could generate revenue which can guarantee self –sustainability. I left the meeting shell shocked with the apparent hostility of this Club General manager to financing ideas without running cap in hand to the sponsors of the team; the state government.
The 2014/2015 premier league was characterized by large scale debts by premier league clubs in terms of player’s wages (enhanced or otherwise), coaches, vendors etc. Club players spent more time on the lawns of their respective State government houses pleading for tranche payments of their wages than on the turf training for games. Sadly the League Management Company despite conceited efforts are handicapped as majority of the premier league clubs are government owned.
The Three (3) tiers of government are all grappling with a severe revenue shortfall leading to prioritization of projects. Quite naturally, football clubs some of which have been seen as “patronage” may suffer even more paucity of administrative funds.
The current economic situation in the country provides an opportunity for premier league clubs to think outside the box. Today’s administrators must develop alternative sources of funding to run their clubs with reduced reliance on funds from the conventional government coffers.
Some of these ideas are highlighted below;
Advanced Receivable Financing: This is raising capital against the security of expected receivables such broadcasting rights, government funding, tickets and even future player transfers. Nigerian Professional Leagues sides can seek to utilize its receivables to access bank financing. This can be used to finance operational costs pending the receipt of these receivables within a period of time. This deal can be structured in a way that involves the guarantee of the sponsor of the club and the League body which will reflect an attractive proposition for lenders.
Commercial Funding: These are veritable means of raising revenue through commercial partnerships in corporate sponsorships, kit, naming rights, catering. Clubs must ensure that contracts entered as a result of corporate partnerships are well defined to allow both parties to comply with the terms of the contract.
Eliminating wastages and Transparency: Majority of Nigerian premier league clubs have been so long functioned as channels of government corruption. Some premier league clubs currently have over bloated player structure and operational costs, with the government funding eventually ending in private pockets. Funds from the government, player costs and transfer fees, Television deals, league grants are all shrouded in secrecy. A recent review of a particular premier league club showed over twenty (20) squad players on loan with transportation to league games carried out via a rented bus!.
State governments should seek to enthrone a culture of accountability that would ensure value for public funds pumped in club running. Nigerian premier league clubs must adopt a business model approach to minimize cost and promote efficiency.
The LMC as a matter of priority should carry out trainings for clubs to operate a cost effective module while creating a business environment that would attract investment. Sports particularly football can be a huge revenue earner for the country if our administrators can transit from scratching the surface to tapping its full potentials.
The time is now…
The irony is that this post was written 4 years ago. It’s shocking how little things have changed.
Back tomorrow with a view at the contractual situation at the club.