NPFL: Heartland Deny LMC Rules Manipulation
Nigeria Premier League side, Heartland FC of Owerri have frowned at allegations that they had manipulated Article A.2.1.2. of the League Management Company (LMC) which allows the registration of and or withdrawal of feeder team players from the main team.
Club’s Media Manager, Cajetan Nkwopara said in a statement in Owerri on Sunday said that the allegation which appeared on a Lagos based sports newspaper last weekend was ‘ an un-intelligent fabrication by a mischievous and disgruntled mind seeking to get back at Heartland after all other options may have failed him.’
“Heartland did not in any way infringe on the rules cited in the report. Emeka Oparaugo who was mentioned in that report was not registered as a feeder team player. He was signed from Campos FC and registered as a full-fledged player with jersey no. 20. He was properly cleared from his former club, Campos FC before being registered in Heartland FC,” Nkwopara stated.
“The second player, Ewulum Alex played for a youth team, Orlu Utd based in Kano State. He was still under-aged for a professional contract and was signed by our feeder team after attending and passing an open screening exercise. The Kano State-based youth team specifically released him to our feeder team from where he was later promoted alongside three other to the main team.
Ekezie Chukwuwike , the third mentioned player also came to our feeder team in the same manner as Ewulum but his was from an Enugu State based youth team while Peter Ogwu Clement also mentioned, was never registered by Heartland FC.
For all the four players registered from the feeder team, their jersey numbers range from 36 to 40 as specified by the LMC rule, “ he explained.
“When we organize screening exercise for the feeder team, a lot of youths from many community or local based teams participate and when they are selected, they are properly acquired in line with their amateur status. No law forbids a youth player who has played for a community team from joining a feeder team and no law also demands that a feeder team player must be a greenhorn who never played in any academy, school team or community team and competition.
For instance, the duo of Kelechi Iheanacho and Chidiebere Nwakali who played for Taye FC were at the verge of joining Heartland FC feeder team before they went to the National U-17 Team then camping in Calaber. After the World Youth Championship, they were taken by Manchester City who put them in the feeder team until they matured for the main team.
The Heartland FC spokesman also stated that the LMC article in contention was provided for and made available to all clubs at the beginning of the season to encourage premier clubs operate feeder teams where young talents can be developed and not ‘revoked’ to favour certain clubs as the report had suggested.
“At the beginning of the season, we had need to promote and register about four players from the feeder team and by mid-season, we withdrew and replaced those that did not meet expectations in line with the provisions of the article. Those withdrawn were sent back to the feeder team,” he explained.
The newspaper report which had based its allegation on an account by an unnamed Heartland FC insider also, claimed that the General Manager, Prince Okechukwu Ibe had cut players salaries in other to get even with his predecessor, Chief Fan Ndubuoke but this again, Nkwopara said was a total falsehood.
“Even as we speak, these two gentlemen, Chief Ndubuoke and Prince Ibe do not know and have not met each other. On a number of occasion, Chief Ndubuoke had had to commend the team whenever we did well. The attempt to drag his name in at this moment is simple mischief.
The guideline for fixing players salaries was agreed between the players and the state government in a meeting presided by the governor where it was also agreed that an improved salary structure should replace the sign-on fee system and this was widely reported in the media at the beginning of 2013/14 league season.
The LMC contract regulation also permitted a review of players performance by the clubs if they wished. This review leads first to player grading and secondly to increment of salaries or otherwise. All the salaries of players quoted in that false report lacked factual evidence and would not merit our mention again here.” Nkwopara.
The Heartland FC spokesman said the source of the false allegations against Heartland was obvious to every member of the team and even those outside who had links or dealings with Heartland.
“To the people inside, the source of this falsehood is not strange. Everyone knows whom this ‘mole in the house’ could be but the fact remains that he misfired.
The fans know exactly those who fought us from outside and immediately they joined the club, we started losing games through sabotage even before this present administration came into place.”