This Day (Lagos)

31 December 2009

Nigeria: Bayelsa, Ocean Boys for Sale

Lagos — Apparently reeling from the effect of having to continuously fund the two clubs representing the state in the elite Glo Premier League, Bayelsa Governor, Timipre Sylva has concluded plans to privatize Bayelsa United and Ocean Boys football clubs.

Speaking at the reception for the state's contingent to the last National Sports Festival in Kaduna and Bayelsa United for winning the 2008/09 Glo League title, Gov Sylva said that due to the huge debts arising from unpaid sign on fees and match bonuses for players and officials, both clubs are going to be privatized in January of the new year.

He admitted that despite committing N850m to the running of both clubs this year, the performance of Bayelsa and Ocean Boys leave much to be desired, hovering around the relegation zone so far. More worrisome to the Bayelsa chief executive is the fact that both teams are dominated by none indigenes of the state.

According to the privatization plans of the governor, the state government would assist the new management of the club with a yearly N200m grant. However, for the new management to continue to enjoy the yearly grant, it was learnt, performance must match the expectations of the state while concerted efforts must also be made to ensure that more indigenes of the state formed the core of Bayelsa and Ocean Boys.

This new Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative of his administration, he noted, is in line with professional football management to get the desired result.

Already, Sylva's move has attracted some notable banks, companies and football consultants and have began to show interests in how to key into the project and use the team to drive their brands in the continent as Bayelsa would be representing the country in the 2010 CAF Champions League.

Meanwhile, the governor has promised to reward the Bayelsa players and officials and the state's contingent to the NSF handsomely.

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