With the last matches having taken place back in March, Nigerian Premier League clubs have now voted to end the current season, as opposed to completing the campaign at a later date. The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown professional football across the globe into turmoil, however the fact that some of Europe’s top competitions have returned over recent weeks had given some hope for fans in Nigeria. Despite this, the return of sports across the country have been ruled out, with Premier League clubs having met over the weekend in an attempt to come to some sort of decision.
In total, 17 clubs voted to end the Premier League, using a points per game system, helping to decide which Nigerian teams will compete in CAF competitions next season. It is believed that the likes of Kwara United, Kano Pillars, Katsina United, Jigawa Golden Stars and Adamawa United voted in favour of ending the season, while Enugu Rangers wished to take part in a six-team playoff, with the top three clubs qualifying for CAF competitions. It is understood that Akwa United and Lobi Stars abstained from voting all together.
CAF Competition Clubs Sorted by Points Per Game System
With a points per game based system now looking likely to be used, Plateau United, Enyimba, Rivers United and Kano Pillars will be the four Nigerian teams to play in 20/21 CAF competitions. However, controversially, Lobi Stars will miss out, despite currently occupying the third place position in the Premier League standings, due to the fact that they have played five more matches than Enyimba.
Lobi Stars have unsurprisingly criticised the decision, with their belief being that the vote was established in order to favour Enyimba, who will themselves leapfrog to second place in the final standings. Enyimba will be joined by Plateau United in the CAF Champions League, while Rivers United will find themselves in the CAF Confederation Cup.
What Next for the Nigerian Premier League?
The final decision now rests with the Nigerian Football Federation, who will also aim to establish a start date for the 20/21 season. However, this is not the first time in which the Nigerian Premier League has ended early, with the campaign having stopped after just 15 rounds two years ago, in order for clubs to meet CAF competition submission dates. However, no champion will be announced this season, with reigning champions Enyimba having played five games fewer than Plateau United, who topped the table by four points before matches were stopped. Bookmakers in Nigeria have now also stopped taking bets on the NPFL, with punters having to look further afield as a result.