Nigeria is a football-crazy country. We love to watch foreign football clubs so much and many of us seem to adour those foreign football players to the point of worshiping them. An average Nigerian can spend his last dime to watch Chelsea Football Club or Barcelona Football Club play, even if he is not sure of what his next meal will be.
Europe may have great football clubs; Nigeria too has her own football clubs. In this write-up, you will be enlightened about the various football clubs in Nigeria. Who knows, you too may pick one of them and adore it the same way you adore European football clubs.
The Nigeria league was founded originally in 1972. There were only six teams in the league then. The league got its name changed to Professional League on the 12th of May, 1990 at the Onikan Stadium, Lagos. Purpose of the name change was to get the league modernized and to also ensure self-sufficiency of the constituent leagues.
The Super Four was played between 1999 and 2007 and this was played at the end of each season. This competition was played by the top 4 clubs and they would all play at a neutral site. This was how the real champion of the league was discovered then.
However, the Super Four competition had been changed to a preseason tournament and it features the 4 top teams on the league table the previous year.
Mighty jet of Jos was the very first team to win the league title in the history of the Nigerian league in 1972. Other teams, like Bendel Insurance, Rangers International, Shooting Stars, Racca Rovers and the like have won the league titles over the years. Shooting Stars have won the title 4 times and Enyimba has won it 7 times.
In an attempt to bring the league in line with what happens in Europe, calendar of the Nigeria League was modified in 2006. The normal arrangement is that the season will start in August and end in May.
In 2012, the League Management Company was founded and it is saddled with the responsibility of managing Nigeria Leagues. They instituted match indemnities for match officials and also sanction clubs that do not pay players’ salaries and allowances.
The league management company however had to approach the Nigerian government for fund, with a view to upgrade facilities on ground and to also provide the needed broadcasting facilities and equipment in various stadia across the country.
Nigerian football clubs are divided into different stages, depending on their performances. These clubs are divided into 4 different divisions. The first one is the Nigeria Premier League and it is also referred to as 1st league.
The second one is the Nigerian National League and it is also called 2nd league. The third one is the Nigeria Division 1 and it is also called 3rd League. The last one is the Nigeria Division 2 and it is also called League 4.
Up to 19 different clubs make up the first league, which is Nigeria Premier League. Up to 16 clubs make up the Nigeria National League also called league 2. Just 6 clubs are in the 3rd League, which is Nigeria Division 2 and only 2 teams are in the Nigeria Division 2.
Nigeria Premier League teams
The Nigeria Premier league is managed by the league management Company. Clubs that make the first three slots in the Nigerian National League are fed into the Nigeria Premier league, while the last three clubs on the premier league table are relegated to the Nigeria National League.
The Nigeria Premier League is being sponsored by Globacom Telecommunication Company. The said sponsoring started in 2013 and it is still on today. This is why the Nigerian Premier league is referred to as the Glo Premier League.
The Nigeria Premier League was ranked as the best league in Africa in 2012. They were also ranked 24th best in the world. This rating put the Nigeria premier league above the Scottish premier league, which was ranked as the 25th best league in the world.
The Nigeria premier league as founded in 2003 that was about 13 years ago. Clubs in the league participate in a number of national competitions like the Nigeria FA cup and the Nigeria Super Cup. Aside these national competitions, they equally participate in a number of continental competitions, like the Champions League and the Confederation Cup.
Enugu Rangers is the current NPL champion for 2016. Both Enugu rangers and Enyimba International FC are the two clubs that have won the NPL title the most times.
As hinted earlier, there are 19 clubs in the Nigeria premier league. These teams are highlighted below:
- Kano pillars
- Enyimba Aba
- Warri Wolves
- Giwa FC
- Nasarawa United
- Lobi Stars Makurdi
- Abia Warriors
- Enugu rangers International
- Dolphins Port Harcourt
- Heartland Owerri
- Sunshine Stars Akure
- Taraba FC
- Port Harcourt Sharks
El-Kanemi Warriors Maiduguri
- Bayelsa United
- Akwa United Uyo
- Gombe United
- Crown FC Ogbomoso
- Kaduna United
The Nigeria National League
The Nigeria National League is made up of 16 clubs as hinted earlier. The 16 clubs are highlighted below:
- Abuja FC
- Bendel Insurance
- First bank Lagos
- Gabros International Nnewi
- Gateway United Abeokuta
- Kwara United
- MFM FC Lagos
- Mighty Jets Jos
- Niger Tornadoes Minna
- Plateau United
- Prime FC Oshogbo
- Ranchers Bees Kaduna
- Shooting Stars SC Ibadan
- Stationary Stores Lagos
- UniCem Rovers Calabar
- Wikki Tourists Bauchi
The Nigeria Division 1 clubs
The Nigeria Division 1 is made up of 6 football clubs. They are highlighted below
- Bussdor United Owerri
- City of David United Lagos
- Court of Appeal Abuja
- Dynamite Force Benin City
- FC Ebedei Ijebu Ode
- Rising Star Akure
Nigeria Division 2 clubs
These clubs are just 2 in number. They are highlighted below:
- My People Lagos
- Yerima Strikers
Nigeria Premier League ranking 2016
The Nigeria premier league is the foremost of all the leagues in Nigeria. It is undoubtedly one of the most exciting leagues in the world if the truth must be told.
One thing that makes the Nigeria Premier League special is the fact that the club that wins the league in a particular season is rarely sure of repeating the same feat the following season. This simply means there is virtually no underdog in the Nigeria premier league. It is a very hot league and it is survival of the fittest all year round.
Last season, it was Enyimba International FC that won the NPL title. The base has shifted however to Enugu state as Enugu Rangers won it this year. Total of 36 matches are played each season in the NPL.
Enugu Rangers were able to win 18 of their games and they drew 9. They also lost 9 matches. In total, the team, scored 53 goals and conceded 37 goals. The total number of points garnered by the Enugu club side was 63 and this was enough to win them the NPL.
Rivers United FC came a close second to Enugu Rangers. They are located on the second spot on the NPL table. They won a match more than Enugu Rangers and drew only 3 of their matches.
However, they lost up to 14 matches, making it 5 matches list more than Enugu Ranger’s record. In total, Rivers United scored a total of 38 goals, and conceded 29 goals. In total, they garnered 60 points to win the second slot on the NPL table.
Wikki Tourist came third in the NPL 2016 campaign. They garnered 57 points in total. They scored up to 45 goals and conceded 28. The team won 16 of its matches and drew 9. 11 of their matches too were lost.
They are just a point ahead of Ifeanyi Ubah football club, who garnered 56 points from a total of 36 matches after winning 16 games and drawing 8. Ifeanyi Ubah also lost 12 games in total. The team scored 37 goals but lost 33 goals.
Sixth on the log is the Akure based team, Sunshine Stars football club. The team won 14 matches out of 36 and drew 11 matches. They also lost 11 of their matches. Sunshine Stars scored total; of 44 goals and conceded up to 37 goals. They garnered total of 53 points, which is 2 points behind Lobi Star, which occupies fifth position on the log.
Kano pillars, the one time defending champion was only able to garner 52 points to place 7th on the league table. Both Plateau United and El Kanemi of Maiduguri shared 51 points apiece to occupy 8th and 9th positions on the league table respectively. Enyimba and Nasarawa United also shared 50 points apiece to occupy 10th and 11 positions respectively.
The three clubs bringing in the rear are Heartland football club with 43 points, Ikorodu United with 32 points and Giwa FC with no point at all. This means heartland, Ikorodu United and Giwa FC will be relegated to the Nigeria National league come next season.