NPL kicks off October 23 with record 24 clubs
Posted: 29 September 2010 Time: 10:45
The Nigeria Premier League (NPL) will now commence on October 23 with a record 24 clubs including Bayelsa United, after a meeting between football officials and the Nigerian Sports ministry.
Bayelsa United, one of four relegated clubs at the end of last season, have consistently fought against their relegation, claiming they should have been awarded three vital points against Wikki Tourists in their final game of the season, when the match was abandoned by the home team.
Last weekend, the NPL announced that the season will kick off October 2, when the earlier date of September 25 was discarded by the NFF.
But even that new date was rendered unfeasible by a plethora of protests from various stakeholders led by Bayelsa United and including referees, and the players' union.
Bayelsa chairman Victor Rumson Baribote threatened to go to court to halt the League kickoff if his club were relegated, a threat that prompted the meeting with the sports ministry.
The current decision means that all four previously relegated clubs will now contest in the 2010/2011 season along with four newly-promoted clubs.
So Bayelsa United, Wikki Tourists, Gateway and Ranchers Bees will keep their places in the Premier League where they will be joined by promoted clubs Crown FC, Bukola Babes, JUTH and Plateau United.
This enlarged representation means the League will now have to draw up new fixtures, and sources at the NPL also told KickOffNigeria.com that the League is considering splitting the league into two streams of 12 teams each, with a playoff for the Top Four teams to decide the League winner.
Four clubs would then be relegated from each stream at the end of the season, with two promoted on both sides to return the competition to its normal 20 clubs at the end of the current season.