LMC hands three-point deduction to Heartland, fined N6.25m

• Club to play three matches behind closed doors • Ten Match Days suspension for Team Manager, Mobi Oparaku • Recommends Suspension of Match Commissioner and Referee • Plateau United fined N1m • MFM fined N3m

Following detailed appraisal of the incident of Match Day 18 at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri, the League Management Company (LMC) has charged Heartland FC has been charged with several breaches of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Framework and Rules.

The LMC imposed a three-point deduction from the club which was also ordered to play the next three home matches behind closed doors and fined a total of N6, 250,000 including N1, 250,000 which is compensation for the injured match officials.

Mobi Oparaku, the Team Manager of Heartland FC was also found to have breached Rule C-13 of the rule and suspended from all NPFL activities for the next ten Match Days.

Other decisions of the LMC on the incident include a fine of N1million each on Heartland and Plateau United for “issuing, permitted or caused to be issued public statements regarding incidents arising from the said match, the manner and content of which were not in the best interest of the game and capable of bringing the game into disrepute”.

The LMC also referred the Match Commissioner, Rowland Abu from Edo State and the Referee, Yusuf Garba from Kano State to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for disciplinary action.

For the Match Commissioner, the LMC found that despite the widely reported unfortunate incidents of disturbances and assault on match officials at the end of the match, he failed to give a detailed or adequate report of the incidents.

Further in the charge, the LMC noted that, “It is also of concern that the Match Commissioner’s report suggests personal conflict and or interference with the Referee in the discharge of their respective functions, which is suggestive of the need for further investigation”.

In recommending the Referee to be suspended from further participation in the NPFL until further notice, the LMC noted that “the performance and conduct of the above-named match official was obviously well below the high standard expected in the Nigeria Professional Football League, including questionable actions and decisions as well as failure to submit match report on time”.

In a related but separate case, the LMC charged Mountain of Fire and Miracles (MFM) FC on three counts of breach of Rule B13.18, B13.52.1 and Rule C9 bothering on encroachment by its supporters on the field of play, failure to provide adequate security and effective crowd control as well as failure to control and ensure proper conduct of club officials. MFM was fined N3m total for the three breaches.

In arriving at the decision to deduct three points from Heartland, the LMC said it took cognizance of the antecedents of the club supporters on previous occasions. Some of the antecedents in reference include previous similar breaches that occurred on Matchday 28 of the 2015/2016 season: Heartland vs. Ifeanyiubah, Matchday 1 and 11 of the 2017/2018 season: Heartland vs. Sunshine Stars and Heartland vs Lobi Stars respectively).

Heartland and its officials, Plateau United and MFM have 48 hours to respond in writing to submit to the decisions or elect to appear before the NFF Disciplinary Committee.