The League Management Company (LMC) held an emergency meeting on the 30th of August 2018, which has, in attendance the 20 NPFL Participating Clubs as well as members of the NFF executive Committee. The meeting was held against the background of the adverse circumstances in the administration of football in the country, which resulted in the postponement of the resumption of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) and resulting in huge fixture congestion for both league and cup competitions. This situation made it practically impossible to meet up with the deadline for the submission of the list of the country’s representatives to CAF Inter-Club Competitions and also the need to commence the 2019 season earnest so as to meet with the CAF objective to change the football calendar to AUGUST/MAY from May 2019. After extensive deliberations, the following decisions were reached:
1. Upon consideration of different options (5 possible options were presented), it was unanimously agreed by the 20 NPFL Clubs, that the 2017/2018 season of the NPFL is deemed concluded and the team at the top of the standings – Lobi Stars shall be the representative in the CAF Champions League for 2019 Session starting Nov 2018 to May 2019.
2. No team shall be relegated from the NPFL for 2018 Season.
3. Four Teams shall be promoted to the NPFL from the Nigeria National League (NNL) from the ongoing 2018 season to compete in the 2018/2019 NPFL season.
4. The 2018/2019 NPFL season will commence in November 2018 with a total of 24 participating teams, which shall be divided into two groups of 12 teams each. The 2018/2019 Season commencing November 2018 will be played on 22 Match days ending with a Play off to determine the Winner by May 2019.
5. Three teams from each group (a total of six) will be relegated from the NPFL after the conclusion of the 2018/2019 season, while two teams will be promoted to the NPFL from the NNL 2019 Season. This will allow the NPFL to revert to its normal structure of 20 teams as from the 2019/2020 season.
6. The NFF have also endorsed for the 2019 AITEO CUP to commence from September 2018 to end October 14, 2018. The NPFL Teams would be seeded for the CUP competition and the Winner to represent Nigeria in the 2019 CAF Confederation Cup starting November 2019.
That the above decisions were reached on the basis of Rule B15.23 of the Framework and Rules of the NPFL, which states that:
Any matter unforeseen or not provided for or, conflict in the interpretation and application of these Rules, shall be dealt with by the LMC as the circumstances require, having regards to the interest of fairness, good sportsmanship and the overall interest of the game of football.
On the strength of Rule B15.23, the relevant provisions in respect of the competition fixtures, particularly contained in Rules A2 (league structure) and A3 (the competition) were suspended. In addition, several factors were duly considered, including the effect of a compressed schedule on the health and well-being of players, need to meet the CAF deadlines of October 15, 2018, and the proposed commencement of the 2019 NPFL Season from November 2018 to end in May 2019 so as to align the NPFL Calendar to August/May instead of the January/November.
It could be recalled that in the 2018 NPFL season Calendar released in December 2017, the LMC has structured the NPFL Calendar for 2018 to commence January 2018 to end September 2018 with a break for the 2018 work cup provided between June 4 to July 18 2018. Unfortunately due to the adverse situation Nigeria football found itself the league could not resume July 18, 2018 as scheduled which eventually necessitated the foregoing decision.
Finally, by virtue of Rule B15.18, the above decisions are with the approval of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)