Spectators in our stadia have become a scarce in recent years in Nigeria, no thanks to the quality of our football league.

Football analysts have argued that problems like globalization of football viewing at sports centres in the country, insecurity in the stadium, predetermined match results or match fixing, the home-team-must-win syndrome, quality of players, have affected the standard of play in our various leagues’ categories and explains why spectators seem not interested to watch the league games.

The League Management Committee (LMC) of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is doing a good job, trying to reposition the premier league by giving it a live TV coverage through Super Sports, and other incentive given to the clubs. But, beaming the league that is watched by empty seats to the whole world amounts to exposing our inadequacies to the entire world.

Stakeholders have adduced several factors as the cause of the problems. In the words of former Captain of the Green Eagles and former Coach of Super Eagles, Chairman, Christian Chukwu in an interview in Port Harcourt, “the LMC wants to sanitize our league, it’s part of why we are not having crowd in our stadium, now we are in the stadium, we don’t have crowd because everybody believed that the home team will win. This home team must win syndrome probably is the mistake from the referees that are coursing it”.

Innocent Solomon-Wokoma, FIFA Licenced Referee, opined that “violent threats on spectators, not allow fans to support clubs of their choice at the stadia, and social vices that pose hindrances to spectator in our stadium are some of the factors.

Nigerians need to emulate the international standards of security in the stadiums by protecting players, club officials, match officials and spectators themselves”.

He elucidated further that “creating good environment for the players to display their skills should be paramount because if such good display of skills are not there, people will not be entertained and you don’t expect people to pay money and watch uninteresting matches, people are not going to stadium to hear results of the game, they are there to watch good football”.

Chief H. I. Omineokuma Kile, former Vice Chairman, Rivers State Football Association becomes the anomaly to the “Area Boys syndrome in our Stadium”, lack of publicity of league matches by the local media, poor standard of play, low quality players and play, lack of private investors’ ownership of clubs in nigeria and none community base clubs ownership initiative, (clubs to be owned by communities).

 “Where all of the above are lacking, we should not expect anything better than we are witnessing or experiencing in our football league. In England, communities own clubs; they invest in it, as a result, they can support it to any length” he asserted.

Veteran sport journalist, China Acheru said the league has been messed up long ago “for about ten years we messed up our league, and as we messed up our league, the people who used to watch the league turned on to European leagues, and when you turn, how do you come back? When you look at the level of confusion in our league, you cannot expect anything better than what we are seeing”.

Also the Technical Director of Heartland FC of Owerri and past Chairman of Rivers State Referee Council, Dabo Ere-Dokubo maintains that with improvement in the welfare package of players and club’ officials, fans will be interested in watching quality football.

According to him, quality players produce quality soccer, “because our welfare packaging is bad, quality players cannot stay more than two seasons in our league, they go outside the country where their salaries are paid as at when due”.

Other contributing factors, according to him is insecurity in our stadiums, where people will come to the stadium and at the end of the day, they will be attacked by miscreants who take away their phones or jewelries. “If security issues are not beefed up, it will discourage spectators in our stadiums”, Dokubo said.

The problem of insecurity in the stadium has been a hydra-headed monster to our leagues. The LMC always place a ban on any stadium that is not security friendly, and huge fines are placed on the clubs as well, yet it always rear its ugly head.

Mr. Ibigoni Akubo Benjamin, former secretary of Rivers State Football Association views did not deviate from others as with regards to insecurity, standard of play and quality of players.

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