ABEOKUTA – The Acting General Manager of Ogun state-owned football club, Gateway United FC, Mr Niyi Soleye has commended the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun for the prompt payment of salaries and allowances of players, appealing to the governor to also release the outstanding allowances for technical crew for optimal performance.
Mr. Soleye made the commendation when he received the newly elected executive members of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Ogun State Chapter at club’s Secretariat, MKO stadium, kuto Abeokuta on Wednesday.
The GM maintained that, Ogun State was among the few states that pay regular salaries and allowances to their players and management team.
He said since 2019 the governor was elected in his first term, no player of the state-owned football clubs is owed a salary or match bonus.
He, therefore, appealed to the Ogun State government to provide the football team with a-42 seater bus and other incentives to boost their morale ahead of the 2023/2024 Nigeria National League, NNL season.
He disclosed that, the team’s lateness to match venue due in the just concluded 2022/23 NNL season denied the team qualification to the elite division of the Nigeria Premier League.
Mr. Soleye maintained that, the epileptic status of the 20-seater coaster bus cost the team to pick the maximum three points to qualify for the Super 8 and subsequent promotion to the Nigeria Premier League this season.
According to him, the team missed the important three points against Ikorodu United to qualify for this season’s NPL when the team bus developed the usual mechanical fault along Sagamu-Abeokuta expressway which forced them to arrive late for the match.
He explained that the bus developed mechanical and wiring faults on many occasions while the team traveled to the Northern and Eastern parts of the country to execute matches which forced the players and technical crew to sleep on the road and subsequently missed such match or played under duress.
Recall that, Gateway United gained promotion to the Nigeria Premier League in 2006/07 and 2009/10 seasons.
But ever since, the team has been languishing in the second tier of the Nigeria Premier League.
The Acting GM who described the bus being used since 2011 as outdated, attributed the inability of the team’s failure to pick the ticket to the elite division of the league to logistics.
“It has been our prayer that this team does not belong to NNL, but unfortunately, we found ourselves where we are. One major factor responsible for not qualifying for the NPL this season is our team bus. The bus we are using is outdated, the bus was to be replaced every four years due to the long-distance journey, but since 2011, we are still using the same bus which has cost the promotional ticket to NPL.
“In the last abridged league format, we lost the all-important three points to Ikorodu United in Lagos when the team bus developed a fault and we only got to the match venue 15 minutes to the end of the match.
“We need a 42-seater Marco polo bus that will convey both the players, technical crew and management staff to match venues. If we get the tools to work with, we will perform better.”
He announced that arrangements had been concluded for the resumption of the players in preparation for the new season.
Mr Soleye who thanked members of the Sports Writers in Ogun State called for the sustained synergy with the association as the league begins soon.
Earlier, The Ogun State Chairman, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Mr Michael-Azeez Ogunsiji appreciated the management of the Gateway United for their support to the association.
Mr. Ogunsiji assured the management of the state owned football team readiness of the association to give the club the adequate coverage.
The highlight of the visit was the official presentation of Jersey to the chairman of the association.