Signs that the Heartland Football Club may face murky water again in the new league season are already beginning to emerge if the current recruitment exercise going on in the club is anything to go by.
The club managed to escape relegation by the whiskers after struggling throughout the season.
It was shocking that the club was constantly losing matches in its home base thereby giving its admirers and supporters heart attack.
While the likes of table toppers, Akwa United are celebrating their victories, Heartland FC rather than mourn the loss of the league title are celebrating their escape from relegation.
It was like they were not primed for the league shield, only satisfying themselves that they just ran. During the concluded season they grappled with a lot of issues ranging from funding to hijack from inexperienced football administrators as well as managerial squabbles.
Now that the season is in the transfer session and clubs are recruiting fresh players to execute the league, reports filtered that the Club has started its recruitment without the coach.
We gathered that while the screening is being conducted by a seven man committee set up by the club the coach is in far away Lagos excluded in the exercise
This has attracted reactions from football buffs in the state that see this as possible recipe for another failure by the club. Nnabuenyi, a diehard fan of the club queried why this should be so. According to him, “if the man fails now would they have the moral justification to hold him responsible when he made no input on the quality of players he will use to execute the football war’’
The action of the team has also attracted some interpretations. Some hold the views that this might be a possible ploy to oust him from the team. They hold on to this view bearing in mind the recent sack of three Heartland coaches out of ignorance before an eagle eye drew attention to what must have invoked sanctions from higher authorities.
Realizing their folly the club quickly made a U-turn to reverse the sack and recall the coaches.
That speaks volumes on the experience of the club administrators who never understood the implications of unilaterally terminating a contract without adhering to the terms of the contract. It was a huge embarrassment saved the team.
It would have been a miracle if the team has done beyond its present performance in the league. It would have amounted to reaping where one did not sow. In life there is no injustice. It was not surprising that the team officials got celebrating.
It is necessary at this point to make some comments on the state of the club while it lasted. Truth must be told no matter whose ox is gored. Truth is bitter but the truth that saves people is the one which they would not like to hear. Many people including the stakeholders are aware of the challenges within the club but lacks the courage to confront it for fear that speaking out will cost them some interest.
We must demonstrate that we have learned from our experience so far. While it lasted the team lacked funds to prosecute the war leading the players go on strike intermittently. The players certainly cannot play on empty stomach. Sometimes they would play matches without training, Salaries are not paid and the team clearly is poorly motivated.
There is no club house, no training pitch, not enough balls to train.
Even when small funds are released for the team it is hijacked by the politicians who are placed to administer the club. The Deputy Speaker and Commissioner for Sports were for the period agent provocateur in the club hijacking the clubs funds which should be administered by the General Manager.
This on a number of occasions brought them on a collision course as the ousted General Manager was consumed in the war. Football was eventually the victim.
The Deputy Speaker in football is like a square peg in a round hole because it is alleged that the only qualification or experience he has sitting atop the club is because he is a youth.
Usurping the powers of the General Manager is a great disservice to the team and puts the club at risk. All of us may be pretending about this.
His running the club offends football rules at the NFF, FIFA and even the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As a legislature I am not sure he is supposed to play executive roles on the same law he legislates on. This is wrong.
The club may be enjoying this but any day a protest reaches the football authorities at a higher level the big hammer will descend on the team. So why don’t we stop this before it happens to save ourselves a big embarrassment.
Can those at the corridors of football power claim ignorance of this provision or are they just pretending to answer good boys.
If the government makes mistake why would they not be advised correctly. We need to get it right that some of the manipulations that we play with to get on in the political space are intolerable at international organizations such as FIFA.
We must warn that government to insulate politics from football.
Football is a people’s game and it must be respected as such. It is a tool that can elevate the status and image of the state. We must not be failures in everything.
A stitch in time they say saves nine.