Kano Pillars are anxiously waiting to hear from the League Management Company what punishment they would incur after their top-of-the-table clash with Akwa United was marred by crowd trouble.
Sai Masu Gida are facing the prospect of being banished from their makeshift homeground Ahmadu Bello Stadium and receiving a financial penalty following their fans’ pitch invasion during Sunday’s fixture with Kennedy Boboye’s team.
The Kano club could also be imposed a point deduction for violating Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 directives during the Nigeria Professional Football League game, which ended goalless.
Following video evidence that some clubs were allowing fans into their stadiums during league matches, the Nigeria Football Federation had reminded the national league bodies and clubs that the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 directive — which banned fans from attending sports events — was still in force.
“We are, by this letter, directing you to reiterate to your official Clubs and Match Commissioners to observe what is a presidential directive. Henceforth, Match Commissioners and other officials are not to sanction the commencement of a football match without ensuring that there are no spectators at the venue in question,” the NFF said in a letter copied to all national league bodies, adding that, “host Clubs must make their best efforts to ensure that match venues are shorn of spectators/fans before the commencement of any match.”
Despite the directive, thousands of Pillars fans were allowed into the stadium.
It remains to be seen what penalties the Kano side would receive for flouting the Covid-19 protocol, though the NFF had spelt out punishments that would be meted out to clubs and officials should they breach the rules.
“Violation of these [Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19] directives would be severely dealt with. For sure, host Clubs that open their gates will be judged to have failed in their responsibilities and would be declared to have lost the game in question by three goals and three points, while the Match Commissioner would also be suspended indefinitely. Further sanctions could apply,” the NFF had stated.
Akwa United, according to a club source, have formally lodged a complaint with the LMC over the incident.
Nwagua looked to have broken the deadlock when he headed in from close range in the 87th minute, but the centre referee — who had initially signalled for a goal — chalked it off for offside after consulting his assistant, much to the protest of Pillars fans.
With fans creating chaotic scenes, policemen were called in to restore normalcy.
Relative calm did return after a while, but the Match Commissioner, having deemed conditions unsafe for the tie to continue, decided to abandon the match.
The game continued on Monday morning, and Akwa United — who went into the fixture with a point clear at the top of the standings — saw out the remaining minutes to secure a point and extend their unbeaten run to 17 matches.