NPFL is a Mistake | How LMC Created a Big Confusion

If I should ask you, what’s exactly the name of Nigeria’s elite football league? Did you say “Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)? What about the sponsorship title, why is it called “Glo Premier League?” I think there’s some kind of confusion or perhaps, someone should explain to us what’s the rational behind the juggling of two league titles. Your guess is as good as mine.

What Happened?  When Nduka Irabor led League Management Company (LMC) came on board, one of the first thing they tried to do was to reposition the league and clearly differentiate it from English Premier League (EPL), which has already dominated the heart of football consumers in Nigeria.

LMC in their own wisdom felt the name “Nigeria Premier League” (NPL) was only giving credence to EPL and since both leagues cannot be compared in anyway, NPL fell short in attracting football fans in Nigeria. So LMC decided to quickly change the league title to NPFL.

The idea was to get the consumers to appreciate NPFL as another league they could also follow and enjoy alongside EPL. So LMC went on to promote NPFL as “Our own league, where we can see and tough the players and coaches as well as have some sense of responsibility in supporting our own club sides.  But the campaign turned out to be a flop.

Responses: When LMC moved to change the name from NPL and NPFL, it didn’t seem to go down well with all stakeholders. The stakeholders, including sponsors, football analysts, Sport marketers, fans and even club owners, vehemently resisted the new name. I think LMC rather took a hasty decision, without consulting anyone.

First, Globacom, the title Sponsorship holders, explicitly refused to be associated with the name ‘Glo Nigeria Professional League,’ rather it insisted on ‘Glo Premier League’ as a more preferred title. 

Well, LMC had no choice after failed negotiations, but to allow both names linger. They could push Globacom for fear of losing the only responsive sponsor.

Football analysts keep juggling between both names NPL and NPFL in their commentaries and reports. Most of them by implication seem uncomfortable with the new name.

Duncan Jackchris of Creative Orchid, a branding and brand Management Company in Nigeria said LMC made a grave mistake and should have riveted the name as soon as they found out.

“Nduka Irabor and his team may not have realized why the league title was changed in 1989 from “Nigeria national division 1 and elevated to a Premier league; to give it exclusive status and attractive brand name.” Jackchris explained.

“Now LMC wanted the league called ‘Nigeria Professional Football League, but it sounds more like a generic name. It doesn’t have that catchy pronunciation like English Premiership, Seria A, La Liga, Bundesliga… and doesn’t attract attention.

For the fans, it’s about addressing the silent factors that contribute to the league being sub-standard – Match fixing, boardroom points, insecurity at the stadium, players’ poor welfare that lead to massive freight of quality players from the league. What the league requires is more than a change of name. LMC need to launder the league’s poor image. Without impeccable reputation, the league cannot attract massive patronage.

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