NPFL: Why we suspended league action for Rivers United

Otunba Gbenga Elegbeleye, chairman of Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL), says the league was not suspended to give an undeserved advantage to Rivers United as widely claimed.

In April, the NPFL suspended the games for one month — after Week 32 — to enable the Port Harcourt club to play five outstanding matches due to its involvement in the African Confederation Cup where it reached the last eight before being stopped by defending champion USM Algeria.

Elegbeleye said the premier league had resolved to ease Rivers United’s run on the continent by rescheduling its matches.

“We couldn’t close our eyes to the need to encourage them by rescheduling games involving them. At the same time, we didn’t want the league to get to Week 36 or 37 where the teams that would be relegated would be known and the possibility of match-fixing won’t arise,” Elegbeleye said.

“By the time Rivers United finished playing their outstanding games, we would be starting on Week 33 for the run-in.”

On Sunshine FC of Akure facing relegation after being leapfrogged by struggling Akwa United, Elegbeleye said there would not be any favoured side in the race.

“The fact that I’m from Ondo has nothing to do with an Ondo team going down. If Sunshine goes down, so be it,” he said.

The league resumes on May 25 with games.

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