By Tunde Shamusideen
Kumbi Titiloye, Chairman Kwara United has revealed that the club lost a whopping €300k (about 139,333,212.61 million Naira) sponsorship deal after the club missed a continental ticket owing to Boardroom Points.
Kwara United who last season were to finish third on the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) log, were dropped to 4th position, following the decision of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Disciplinary Committee to award 3 points and 3 goals to Rivers United over a disputed match against Jigawa Golden Stars where the Dutse-based club fielded an illegible player.
Kumbi gave an indepth summary of happenings in the club, it’s challenges and also the whereabout of former NPFL goal king Junior Lokosa.
Below is the excerpts of the interview after Kwara United victory over Niger Tornadoes in Sunday’s Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) MatchDay 15 fixture at the Kwara State Sports Complex, Ilorin.
Can Continental Football return to Kwara?
With all parameters equal we should go to the continent. We have the squad capable of making it happen. The government support has been massive, players have adhered strictly to instructions and arbiters of the game need to do what is right. Let us remove politics from Football.
Looking at the Kwara United squad, scoring chances have been missed so far. What do you think has been the issue?
In football there are different departments, I am just Chairman of Kwara United. We have to engage the players gradually. We have played just 15 matches. These boys are young, I don’t believe in old people playing football. If you watch the Premier League and La Liga, young boys dominate these competitions. Last season, we didn’t have goalscoring problem. The likes of Michael Ohanu and Wale Farayola left. We are still looking for players to fill the void. The boys will get there gradually.
There has been series of reports on the future of Junior Lokosa. Can you shed more light on the situation?
A Libyan club offered Lokosa contract. On getting to Tunisia where the relationship was supposed to be consummated, the team backed down and Junior informed us immediately. We advised him to come back home. We were fully aware of his movements. Do there is nothing like AWOL.
When you were with the Abuja Football College, players were sold abroad. Why has it been difficult to replicate that at Kwara United?
Football College is a private entity, while Kwara United belongs to the government. At the private sector, I had 100% control. Here, I have board, stakeholders and supervisory board. If I want to press ahead, one might step on toes.
Is there a bridge between the Sports Commission and Kwara United?
Kwara United have no problem with the Sports Commission. The Executive Chairman is like an Elder brother to me. I knew him before joining Kwara United and he is not hindering is in any form. There are different stages and steps to follow. I am answerable to Kwara Internal Revenue Service, Ministry of Finance and State Government. If I don’t carry these key stakeholders along there will be lots of problems to deal with.
What will you promise Kwarans at the end of the season?
Kwara United will play football. Barring these parameters I told you earlier, the club is good to go.
Two seasons ago the club and were reportedly not in good terms. What have you done to ensure a perfect synergy?
We realized that there were problems at the gates. Now the gates have been opened after the Covid-19 issues. We handed over gate takings to fans. They are in charge. Whatever the realize on match days is paid to Kwara Internal Revenue Service. We fund their travels and give room for engagements. We are always open to suggestions from fans. Last season, a friend of mine sent a player to Kwara United but I wasn’t around. It was the Supporters that urged us to sign the lad. That player is Steven Jude. Smiles…
Is Kwara United looking at flying to away games?
There are parameters that hinder development of football in Nigeria. When we missed out on the continental ticket, the club lost €300k because there was a sponsorship deal attached to the qualification. When boardroom points dropped us to 4th position, what could we have done? We are trying to re establish the link with the sponsors but they were heavily involved at the last Africa Cup of Nations. We are just re engaging.
You have always talked about the damage Politics has done to Football in Nigeria. What’s your sincere advice?
From different countries I have visited, government usually provide policies that remove football business from their control. As long as government is involved, Nigerian football is going nowhere. It’s now left for government to formulate policies that will attract investors. The richest man in Africa is a Nigerian. We have thousands of Nigerians that want to invest but government interference makes them afraid. For instance, if your team from Ogun State misbehave and the Governor is close to leaders of NFF or LMC he will be pressurized to step down. It’s a Private entity that doesn’t care whose ox is gurred. They follow rules of the game.