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Over the past 3 years, the Nigerian Professional Football League, NPFL, has witnessed significant growth in every sphere.

Match day attendance and TV viewership have grown. These days, it is not out of place to see football followers who previously satisfied their thirst for football conversations -and argument- with European football now discussing Nigerian league clubs and players with as much knowledge and passion as the biggest European league clubs and players.

For those who know, the change in perception of the league has been stunning.

Not too long ago, the league was a known only for wrong things. Poor match venue security, biased officiating, poorly motivated players and complete disinterest by the media and fans.

In essence, the league was only a league in name and nothing else. Most clubs couldn’t even generate revenue and waited on state governments to meet needs as basic as keeping the lights on in their offices- if they had any.

The turnaround started when seasoned administrators like Chief Gaius Obaseki and Nduka Irabor decided that enough was enough and took it upon themselves to turn things around.

The work started 7 years ago has provided the new leadership of the League Management Company (LMC), led by Shehu Dikko, with enough momentum to accelerate the growth of the league.

Having done the homework necessary to make the league attractive again, Shehu Dikko and his travellers challenged corporate Nigeria to support the league as a platform to excite and entertain fans, engage young people and work with clubs to become money-spinning endeavours like the Real Madrid, Manchester United, Arsenal and other big Europeans clubs.

The efforts of the LMC seems to be bearing fruit as Star, Nigerian’s leading premium lager beer has now partnered with the LMC as it official beer supporter.

Known for sponsoring premium entertainment platforms, Star’s partnership with the league is bound to elevate the league to another level for all parties in the league; the clubs, the players, the media and indeed, the fans.

Marketing Director, Nigerian Breweries Franco Maria Maggi affirms thatt “for league clubs, Star’s partnership increases the pool of revenue available for participating clubs to share.

“With more money in the bank, clubs can further smoothen their operations, attract and retain good players, invest in match day facilities, which will lead to more revenue from the gates.

“In addition to that, clubs will also benefit from Star’s promotion of the clubs in the league through advertising, live match broadcast sponsorship, activations and other promotional activities.”

In respect to the players, apart from benefitting indirectly from Star’s sponsorship fee, they will also be featured in Star’s advertisement and other promotional activities, turning them into household names and faces across Nigeria.

Research has shown that sports fans like to have some affinity with players they spend time and money following or watching.

Superstars like LeBron James, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo guarantee full houses anywhere they go. This following means that they make far more than their salaries from endorsements from many brands who need them as communication platforms with the millions who adore these players.

The more endorsements these players get, the more they build ubiquity as they get featured on multiple advertising and promotional campaigns across the world, connecting them with more people.

With a strong name and facial recognition, players in the Nigerian league can also build their personal brands which they can then go on to monetise it in several other ways such as endorsement deals, increased salaries as a result of cult following and  celebrity appearances.

In addition, there would also be an annual Star Football League feature game which will see the best players in the league play against foreign football clubs.

This immediately puts players in the local league in the shop window for these foreign clubs and it is within the realms of imagination that players could attract interest from some of these clubs during the game(s).

The media will also benefit as Star will invest money in leveraging radio, television and digital media to optimise its investment in the NPFL property.

With the league bound to become more popular with the partnership, reporters, writers, presenters and analysts will benefit from better content and a more receptive audience.

And finally, fans will benefit from the various promotional activities Star will embark on to excite and engage them.

They will also be treated to better football experiences as a consequence of better players, investments in stadium facilities and rich match day experiences.

It has taken a few years and no small amount of sweat. With this partnership-involving Star larger beer, it looks like finally, all the work will start to bear fruit and the Nigerian League, clubs, players, media and fans can start to enjoy shining moments and unforgettable experiences.

This is  a feature by Star Lager Beer.

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