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Why Supersport pulled out of $40 million deal to show Nigerian Professional Football League Matches

A damning article on the comatose state of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) has cited alleged mismanagement of funds, embezzlement and lack of accountability for why pay TV channel Supersport opted out of a broadcast deal that would have fetched Nigeria over $40 million.

There has been no official statement from the League Management Company (LMC) since Supersport pulled out more than three years ago.

But according to icirnigeria.org, allegations of corruption at the LMC headed by Shehu Dikko caused millions of fans not to follow the domestic league on television.

The report said that in 2013, the league signed a five-year deal with Supersport to show two NPFL matches every weekend.

The five year deal, which was to kick start at the commencement of the 2015 season, amounted to a reported $8.5 million annually.

That deal was supposed to be the start of the new dawn of the league, with the television package expected to increase visibility and attractiveness.

According to an insider, “the deal was more like a corporate social responsibility on the part of Supersport”, owing to the fact that it was not favourable to them financially.

“The only way Supersport could have made money was through advertisement placement and sponsorship, but since that is not prevalent in the Nigerian league, Supersport could not recoup its television rights investment in the league,” the source said.

To produce one match at the time, it cost Supersport a conservative N5 million per match day to cater to logistics and crew finances. This continued for years until 2017 when the Naira’s fortunes took a downturn.

Consequently, Supersport resolved to renegotiate the terms of the contract, so as to pay in naira. Failing to reach a compromise, the deal suffered a premature death.

To legally pull out of the deal, Supersport cited breach of contract on the part of LMC “because there were actually several breaches”.

Supersport was said to have pulled out of the deal following allegations of funds mismanagement, embezzlement and lack of accountability. That was how Supersport stopped showing the league.

Sadly, despite receiving millions of dollars annually from Supersport between 2015 and 2017, the LMC was unable to develop and standardize the NPFL so as to make it attractive to fans and brands.

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