Wednesday Jan 18, 2017. 11:27
Owner of NPFL club FC IfeanyiUbah, Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, has opened up on the disgraceful events that marred the opening day of the new Nigeria league season, saying he never ordered his team to abandon the game against Kano Pillars.
He said the walkout by his team was most regrettable and has taken the sanctions imposed on ‘The Anambra Warriors’ in good faith.
The full interview:
: Good morning sir, it’s a brand new Nigeria Professional Football League season. Many waited for the opening day with excitement and great expectations, but your darling team FC Ifeanyi Ubah seem to have spoilt the fun by staging a walkout in the second half of an exciting game at Kano Pillars.
: Let me start by saying I feel more pained and ridiculed by the event of Saturday. I want to use this medium to first of all put to rest the allegations making the rounds that I called my team manager Jonathan Igwe to instruct him on what to do when in actual fact, I only called when I heard from the venue that the game was abandoned.
When I employ people, I always give them a free hand to take decisions because I have entrusted them with responsibilities and where they fail to perform, I wield the big stick.
I have not for once interfered during the course of a game. I only chip in advice at half time or before kick-off and leave the coaches and team managers to do their work.
What happened on Saturday was very unfortunate and highly regrettable but the deed has been done, we can only see how to come out of it and move on.
QUESTION: Have you had a chance to watch the video tape of the match? What was your impression of the officiating?
: The referee, Folusho Ajayi from Oyo State, did her best. As you know, we are human and are liable to mistakes. However, these decisions do not warrant us walking out of the pitch.
If it were an international match, are you saying we will abandon the match because things are not going our way?
All I ask is that referees should allow the game flow. There were too many wrong calls and I am sure that was what infuriated the team manager, but he had no right to take the laws into his hands.
The team we assembled this season has the capability and capacity to win the league. We have consciously and carefully done our scouting, we have recruited some of the best players in Nigeria and on the continent and we are ready to take on any team in the league.
I wish they will allow all teams a level playing ground to show their stuff, then Nigerians will see the very best of FC Ifeanyi Ubah.
We have gone beyond just a Nigerian clubside, we are an international brand and the best team in Nigeria today.
: Did you just say you have the best club? I thought Rangers won the league and should be considered the best?
: No, they are not. We won the Federation Cup. Many people wrote us off, they said we paid our way to the final but on that day, God in heaven vindicated us.
The Lagos fans came out to support good football and we gave them lots to savour with our performance. At the end we were crowned champions. The FA Cup is the oldest and biggest club competition. To win it, you must defeat champions and we did it in style against Nasarawa United who had the backing and presence of the first and second citizens of the state.
Just last week again, beyond all expectations and with 10 men, we defeated Rangers to win the Charity Cup which is the official curtain raiser to the new season.
We lost a player in the first half but with ten men we taught them some good lessons in the second half that got the crowd salivating and we went ahead to win on penalties.
How else do you decide the best, Wale? We have defeated all comers and we are dreaming continental now.
: Let's return to the abandoned game in Kano at the weekend. As an international brand, don't you think that the decision to abandon that match on Saturday has damaged FC Ifeanyi Ubah brand?
That is my major worry. In fact that is why I called for this interview because I needed to quickly douse the tension after all the stories flying on the social media.
We must try as much as we can to promote and protect the brand called FC Ifeanyi Ubah. Not only our reputation, my name is also at stake. If you tune your radio on now, all you hear is Ifeanyi Ubah.
They don't even add the ‘FC’ any longer but that is the price I have to pay for investing my money on my passion. The love I have for this game beats the imagination of anyone. I know where it pinches, because I invest my hard earned money in the game.
Today, I am the only individual in the premier league investing my money on a club.
Remember we travel to Egypt soon for a CAF Confederation Cup match with Al Masry and that demands a lot of money, but we will continue to do our utmost in putting smiles on the faces of the youths.
That is my calling and no amount of intimidation can deter me from doing so. I will remain focused because the vision I have for FC Ifeanyi Ubah is massive.
: So, will the management of FC Ifeanyi Ubah tender an unreserved apology to the football fraternity especially the Governor and people of Kano State, the NFF and LMC over the decision to abandon that match on Saturday?
We have done just that. Before you came in, I had instructed Chukwuma Ubah, my chairman, to put out a press release that will appeal to all these people you just mentioned.
My biggest apology goes the Governor of Kano State, His Excellency Umar Abdullahi Ganduje, players and officials of Kano Pillars and the fans who paid to see the match.
I must also apologise to the League Management Company under the able and vibrant leadership of Mallam Shehu Dikko. I can't imagine what that man is going through now after the event of yesterday. He toils day and night to make the league better, he is always moving around, looking for sponsors to better the league and such incidents on the very first day of the season is bad for brand promotion and publicity.
I am also appealing to the Nigeria Football Federation, the over 20 FA chairmen at the stadium, club owners and the media for that shameful show put up by my team.
We will only get better with time and such will never happen again.
We want to be an example of good conduct on and off the field of play. We are a super brand and the only NPFL side to sign a multi-million pounds partnership deal with a top European club (West Ham United) This is what we intend to flaunt as credentials, not to be seen as a team that abandons league games or make headlines for the wrong reasons.
: Thank you for your time sir.
: Thanks for honouring me too.
THE LMC HAS SANCTIONED FC IFEANYI UBAH, WHO HAVE COME OUT TO SAY THEY WILL NOT APPEAL THE VERDICT OF THE LEAGUE BOARD.
By Wale Ajayi