Few weeks into the 2020/21 Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL season, the dwindling fortunes of the Naze Millionaires other wise known as Heartland FC of Owerri has been attributed to the undue interference of the Sate Sports ministry and other government agencies.
According to a communiqué made available to Trumpeta Sports Desk which was signed by the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria SWAN, Imo State Chapters communiqué drafting Committee, Mr Everest Ezihe (Chairman), Tunde Liadi (Secretary) and Orji Sampson (Member), the Imo Sports Ministry through the Commissioner in collaboration with the Deputy Speaker Imo State House of Assembly were accused to have hijacked the role and responsibilities of the club management which is said to have created division in the team hence the poor results of the club in as many as 5 matches were they lost 4 winning only one against Enyimba Int’l in Owerri last Sunday.
In the communiqué, Imo SWAN as a critical stakeholder of the club and sports generally among many other demands called on the state Governor, Sen Hope Uzodinma to salvage the situation by calling the Sports Ministry to order in other not to attract further sanctions from the league organizers, the League Management Company LMC for undue interference by government.
Parts of the communiqué reads;
“Despite Heartland FC’s first win of the 2020-21 Nigeria Professional Football League season at home to their Oriental brothers, Enyimba International FC, Aba Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Imo State Chapter has observed the club’s dwindling fortune and as principal stakeholders we have investigated and noted some anomalies which are detrimental to the people’s great expectations from the club if not nipped in the bud forthwith.
“We are therefore issuing this communiqué with the intention that all parties involved would be mindful of the implications of their actions and inactions and to retrace their steps and not allow the Naze Millionaires to go into oblivion.
“SWAN calls for Immediate intervention of Imo State Government as it concerns the release of funds to the team to address several issues facing the club, particularly the commencement of the installmental payment of the debt owed the ex-player of the team, the Brazillian Santos Da Costa Ivo Jorge to halt the FIFA ban and to enable Heartland FC the latitude to sign new players.
“It’s disheartening that Heartland players are still accommodated in a hotel in Owerri instead of a residential camp where players’ activities can be monitored and controlled. This, SWAN noticed has caused a lot of distractions to the team including unsettled hotel bills.
“Imo SWAN has also observed that there are some clandestine move to force the technical crew to reduce the number of players in the club, we urge that the leadership of the team should ensure that the team has the global best practice that guarantees number of players that will ensure that Heartland prosecute the season seamlessly.
“Imo SWAN is also asking for an immediate halt to the continued interference of the State Ministry of Sports, Youth & Social Development and other agencies of the government in the day to day running of the club while the club management headed by the General Manager should be allowed to take its oversight function of the club and be held accountable. It’s an obvious truth that the laws governing the game abhor interference as it may attract ban or stiffer sanctions for the club if unchecked.
“SWAN, Imo Chapter also implores the State government to put all logistics in place with which to hasten action towards the completion of the ongoing works at the Dan Anyiam Stadium Complex, Owerri to make it befitting to host league matches and other sporting events fully.
“In conclusion, the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, Imo Chapter charges the technical crew to live up to expectations, jettison the blame game and give the stakeholders the much-needed results more regularly.