- Published on Friday, 25 April 2014 12:39
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The scheme, christened the ‘Elite Players Project’ was explained in detail to the 20 Premier League Clubs in a circular signed by Salihu Abubakar, the LMC Chief Operating Officer and listed the major objective to include the improvement of professionalism in the NPFL by permitting clubs to register a maximum of two ex-international players in addition to the maximum 35 allowed in a season.
Introducing the project to the clubs in the circular of April 20, the LMC said “the LMC hereby brings to the notice of all participating Clubs of the NPFL the commencement of its ‘Elite Players Project’. This project is pursuant to Rules 9.65, 9.67. 13.60.1, 13.60(viii) and 15.21 of the NPFL Framework and Rules 2013/14 season”
The LMC further explained that the benefits of the scheme to clubs, players, fans, sponsors and the League. “It has been designed to increase and deepen players-experience pool of the league, bolster the morale and confidence of younger players in the NPFL, project the image of the league as a welcoming and conducive playing environment for the return of Nigeria’s finest crop of international professional footballers and boost the mass appeal of the league for commercialization”.
The LMC however also listed criteria which will qualify any player to benefit from the scheme and stated “the ex-international player must have played for Nigeria at the Olympic Games, Nations Cup, World Cup or alternatively have earned at least 20 international caps and must have played in a world class league of undisputable pedigree for a minimum of five seasons”. In special circumstances that will be determined by the LMC, wavers may be granted in some cases and the Clubs can register such elite players at any point in the season so far they have not exceeded the maximum quota of two in the season.
Already, Enyimba International of Aba may have been the first to take advantage of the project as they are on the verge of presenting former Super Eagles defensive midfielder, Sani Kaita for registration on a short loan stint. South American leagues and South Africa are known to have benefitted hugely from the return of their national stars who made headlines in Europe and it is indeed believed that every South American player, especially Brazil and Argentina always plan to retire from football playing for their domestic league clubs.
The LMC said it will also support the project by paying undisclosed stipends to the players in addition to whatever financial arrangements individual players will reach with interested Clubs.
“To encourage the players settle down, the LMC will pay additional stipends that will make life more comfortable to the elite players and help them adjust faster “, Abubakar disclosed.
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