By Rasaq Oboirien – Lagos
The salary crises that have bedevilled Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) side Heartland in the past three seasons may be far from being over after it was scooped that its management has no plans to pay its former players and backroom staff, who they owe between 11 and nine months salaries plus match winning bonuses.
Recall the club was subject to ridicule after a video of the player’s protest in Owerri went viral on social media, and in a swift reaction, the owners of the Naze Millionaires, Imo State Government assured that players (old and new) will get their owed salaries on or before January 26th.
It could be a story for the gods as Heartland management in their greedy attitude only intends to pay players who were just owed between four to three months
salaries, thus leaving the faith of their former players and coaches hanging on a thread.
Our source (a former player, name withheld from Heartland) said: “I had a valid contract with the club and am been owed nine months salary and some match bonuses.
“I tried to find out from a key member of the management whom I have a rapport with after hearing the news that the Imo State Government have resolved to pay us.
“But he told me the shocking news of my life, he said I and all former players and staff who are been owed 11 to eight months salaries should not think of seeing any alert as it was the main issue they were to discuss in a meeting.”
Meanwhile, current players of the club have resolved to concentrate and not to stage any protest against their employers but could quit if their nine (9) months salaries are not paid on January 26th.
One of the current players who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “The news from the State Government came at the right time and so they will now focus on the Oriental Derby home game against Abia Warriors.
“We also will not stage any protest again, but we also will not take to chance to quit if we don’t receive any credit alert from our respective banks on or before 26th of January.”
Embarrassed by the video of the player’s protest that went viral on social media, the management of the Naze Millionaires, tagged them ‘Ghost Players’.
A statement the club media released read: The management of Heartland FC has explained that the club is being distracted by players who have since been offloaded.
The management was quick to add that the players who have been sweating it out on the pitch this season are focused on the task ahead haven seen that the government is not toying with their welfare.
“Every club has challenges just like Heartland. Our players are aware that the Imo state government is not toying with their welfare which goes beyond salaries. Unfortunately, some players who have since been offloaded for not living up to expectations are hell-bent on derailing our plans. But we are on top of the situation and won’t allow that to happen,” the club’s management stated.
In another development, Heartland has appealed for 14 days’ grace to enable them to address and resolve the issue of non-payment of salaries of players.
In a memo to the League Management Company (LMC) and signed by the secretary of the management committee, Sam Anozie and sent to the League Management Committee (LMC), titled ” Re-Report of Non-Payment of Overdue Payables”, the management assured that the issue would be positively addressed and consequently resolved.
Also embedded in the LMC letter is a document on the players’ payment schedule which showed their seriousness to do the needful.