NIGERIA FOOTBALL: The Future Looks Up to Sport Marketing

When Emeka Nwanne a.k.a 'Apostle of Nigeria Football', a crew member of LTV Sports Splash, said “Government wouldn’t hands-off  football so soon in Nigeria.” He was saying the obvious because of the vested interest Nigerians have in the sport. And we shouldn’t waste time waiting for some kind of privatization process to take place before we can create the enabling environment for Nigeria football to flourish.

No one can truly say that the government has not tried to keep football afloat in the troubled waters. Even with the government of Orjiuzo Kalu, Eyimba football club were able to broke the jinx in 2002 and 2003, when they became the first and only football club in Nigeria to have won the CAF Champions League trophy. It made me realize something. It’s not the government, it’s the managers of our football.

Although, you may argue that it’s the government that appoint square pegs into round hole. And as long as the managers don’t fit, they couldn't take initiatives to move the Nigeria football forward. Yet, I still believe that football business in Nigeria has all the potential to become a profitable venture. Whether or not government hands-off football to private enterprise. And Green Hunters Sports International is spearheading a revolution in this regard. Managers should stop seeing football as not-for-profit venture and begin to put in place structures in their clubs or league to have a business outlook.

The challenge basically is that most of our football managers are lacking “sport sense.” What Theodore Levitt called “marketing myopia” or “lack of foresight in marketing sport ventures.”  Marketing myopia has slowed down the development of Nigeria football industry. For instance, no club in Nigeria has a professional marketing staff in it’s management team or a vibrant marketing department for that matter. Marketing their products and services haven’t been a priority for them; so they look up to government for all their funding. The stadium are usually empty and most of the clubs have no real sponsorship deals and yet, they careless.

At the Association level where there is a marketing department, the NFF have shortsighted focus on quick money making deals like sponsorship for NPL or the Super Eagles, than long term investment in research and building relationships with all vital stakeholders.

Nigeria is going to be 51years in the next few days and our football has lasted since 1945. We can say Nigeria has come of age. It’s vital we understand the place of marketing in today football management. The competition today is more intense and global in nature, football managers cannot afford to remain sitting on the armchair hoping that fans and sponsors would show up, they wouldn’t come. The trend today has shown that European football clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona… has taking over the Nigeria football market and that’s not good for our football industry. If you consider how large the Nigeria football market is, over 50 million fan base, you’ll understand how much we have lost already.

Well, all is not lost, at least we still have the large Nigeria market to contend with. Truly our new hope lies in marketing our football to our people and to the world at large.

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