20 December 2007

NIGERIA : Premier League scheduled to start February

The Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) have scheduled the Premier League to take the first shot in February 2008. The announcement follows the board meeting held December 15th in Abuja.

FIBA.COM learned that even though the board was working towards getting different levels of sponsorship for the league within that period, it resolved that the league will commence as scheduled with or without any corporate sponsorship.

"The decision on the league is clear. The league will start in February and we are already drawing up a timetable for the league and the schedule for the entire 2008 events will be released in due course," the NBBF League Director Muktar 'Malone' Khaleh told FIBA.

"So even if we are able to get 10 sponsors they will join us later and the league gets better. But we cannot afford to wait any longer. We are on course and if nothing is finalised by the schduled date we'll find another way of raising the needed cash to run the championship."

No exact date in February has been given as we gathered that choosing the exact date will depend on a number of other matters especially reaching out to all stakeholders.

If the league is able to start as schduled, it will end the long wait for teams as no full league has been played since their former sponsors Vmobile (now Celtel) pulled out of sports sponsorship after the 2006 season.

Last September the NBBF had to organise abridged leagues in the Savannah and Atlantic Conferences to enable them select their continental representatives.

FIBA.COM also gathered that the Federation may be able to secure two sponsors for the Premier League which will include a separate television rights package for the league.

The search for sponsorship is limited to the men's event as Zenith Bank remains the sponsors of the female league.

We also learnt that the NBBF and their women's league sponsors are hoping to expand the partnership and the league before the next season commences based on a long term relationship.

By Pius Ayinor

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