Emmanuel Adesanya, Chief Operating Officer of the Nigeria National League (NNL), says the league will kick off on Saturday with a total of 46 teams participating across the country.
Adesanya also said the season would kick off with strict adherence to all COVID-19 protocols.
The NNL chief operating officer made this known while addressing the media at the NNL Secretariat on Wednesday in Abuja.
“The Federal Government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports/NFF specifically instructed that on every match day at the various venues, the daily COVID-19 protocol must be observed.
“We have transmitted same to our various clubs and Football Associations that all protocols of the COVID-19 must be observed, followed and carried out to the latter at the various match venues.
“Clubs are expected to provide hand sanitisers at the entrance of the stadium, washing of hands at the various designated spots is compulsory as well as all social distancing procedures.
“We have written and communicated all these to the clubs and they have assured us that they are going to adhere to all our instructions.
“The NFF has also set up a COVID-19 Committee which is headed by Ibrahim Gusau in charge of monitoring and compliance at the various venues during match days,” he said.
The chief operating officer noted that in furtherance to the NNL’s preparation for the new league, the management had put some measures in place to ensure quality officiating of matches.
“By the special grace of God, our Chairman, Obinna Ogba, being a retired referee has been able to sit down with the Referees Appointment Committee and pleaded with them to appoint very good and quality referees to officiate our matches.
“So, we are hopeful that the 2020/2021 NNL will experience a new brand of quality refereeing and we have also communicated to the committee that we will not hesitate to drop any referee who falls short of the required standard.
“We are also introducing the Reward and Punishment mechanism to ensure that the quality of refereeing in our league is at par with what is obtainable at the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL),” he said.
Nicholas Akujobi, the Administrative Secretary of the NNL, while speaking on the abridged league format to be adopted, noted that the 46 participating teams would be divided into four groups.
“In the Northern Conference, we have A1 and A2, while in the Southern Conference we have B1 and B2.
“In A1, we have 11 clubs while in A2 we have 10 clubs.
“In B1 we have 12 clubs, while B2 comprises 13 clubs.
“A total of 24 matches are expected to be played every week over a 22 weeks period with no less than 536 matches to be played in the league’s season,” he said.
He revealed that the “Super 8” format would be adopted this season with the two top clubs emerging from each group.
He added that the top eight clubs would then converge at a centre yet to be announced to determine the winner of the league through a round robin or an elimination process as the case might be.
Sajo Mohammed, NNL’s Chief Executive Officer in charge of Marketing and Sponsorship, urged well meaning Nigerians as well as corporate bodies to come on board to help sponsor the league, adding that Premier Lotto was the only sponsor of the league at the moment.
He also urged the media to do more in promoting the NNL, adding that the importance of the media to the growth and development of the league could not be overemphasised.
The 2020/2021 NNL abrigded season is expected to run from Feb. 13 to June 19.