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By Barnabas Augustine 

The Chairman Adamawa United and  Queens football clubs, Emmanuel Zira has said Adamawa United was relegated from the Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL 2020/21 season because of the internal crisis in the team.

The Chairman disclosed this while briefing Journalists on the recent development in the team at the club secretariat at Bekaji in the state capital.

According to Zira, Adamawa United are among few clubs in the country that have perennial management crisis. He said each time the clubs are about to stabilize, in house crises often rocks them. 

The club Chairman explained that this was not the first time that Adamawa United are facing in house crisis. He said in 2006 when Adamawa United were promoted to play in the NPFL premiership, they were enmeshed in house crisis that led to the relegation of the club. And, what led to the relegation of the club this season is a replica of what relegated Adamawa United in 2006 from the NPFL.

He added that funding of the club was a set back to the performance of the players; in the 2006/2007 season the club received funding when it remained only two matches to round off the season. He maintained that the funding problem was also replicated in this season.

Mr. Zira said as the Chairman of the club, he has put everything on ground for the promotion of Adamawa United to the NPFL in 2019/20 season before he left the club. 

He said he was asked to come back to the club during the coronavirus pandemic. At his resumption, he disclosed that he made proposal to Ministry of Youth and Sports to ensure Adamawa United have good performance in the league. He added that things went well only in the first month of the league. He said the following months, in house crisis erupted in the club, as a result the club was not funded as expected and that made him to stay aside.

The Chairman of the Queens and United said amidst the lingering crisis, he was called to proffer solutions in order to rescue the club. He said, he used his influence to persuade some clubs playing in the NPFL to end the League with no club being relegated due to the outbreak of COVID 19 in Nigeria. That he said saved Adamawa United who were at the bottom of the league table from being relegated in the last season.

He stated that clubs such as Kwara United and Nasarawa United learnt their lesson and now they are among the highly rated clubs in the NPFL. Adamawa United did not learn from the past mistakes instead continued with the in house fighting of over financing of the club.

Mr. Emmanuel Zira revealed that amidst crises in the team, the welfare of the players was not taken care of. He said when he was contacted to make enquiries by the government on the players' welfare, the story was a pity one. 

"I called the captain of the club he told me that each of them was given N1,500 for five days feeding. They even sleep at filling station because they don't have money for hotel. The Governor and the Secretary to the State Government were furious about the situation" Mr Zira disclosed.

"I called the Chief of Staff to the Governor and informed him on the situation and he asked me to send N200,000 to them to take them out of the condition which I did that".

Mr. Zira disclosed that immediately Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri directed Adamawa United and Queens should ceased from being under the Ministry and placed them under his office, he said damage has already been done to the club. When he took over; the club had four points in the league while others have thirty. He maintained that if the needful have been done Adamawa United couldn't have been in the relegation zone because the team has highly rated players.

Speaking on the failure of Adamawa Queens to play in the Nigeria Women Football League Premiership, Mr. Zira said the team was relegated because the Ministry failed to photocopy the team's document and send to the league officials for documentation.

He said government has been financing the club with N12 million monthly but the money was not judiciously used. He therefore applauded Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri for approving the memo to support Adamawa Queens play in the Championship that was recently concluded in Abuja during which Adamawa Queens returned to play in the NWFL Premiership.

Mr. Zira revealed that they were recently audited and were asked to refund about N198 million for not playing for a season. He explained that they have submitted the audited document to Governor Fintiri and writen to the former accountant of the club to give account of the money that was not given to the club because there were no football activities during the season under review due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He also disclosed that the Ministry has signed an overdraft of N30 million naira from Adamawa Homes and Savings which he does not know for what reason. He said, the overdraft has become a financial burden on the teams having that Adamawa United and Queens are faced with financial challenges.

The football enthusiast said he wrote a memo to Governor Fintiri seeking his approval to convert the overdraft to term loan of which the Governor gave his approval to. He revealed that, monthly the bank is deducting N2.6 million from the N12 million monthly given to the state's clubs which was initially for payment of staff salaries. He alleged that the Ministry couldn't defend this at the budget defence.
He explained that he gave clarity to the state Planning Commission when he was invited to clarify why players' names were frequently changed in the payroll. 

 According to Mr. Zira there are three windows in a season for signing new players. If a player is not performing well the team may drop him and sign new one to give the club optimum performance. He said that the clarification was understood that is why the money is now coming as a grant while explaining that the N12 million is only for staff salaries excluding the match allowances.

The experienced Chairman also disclosed that at a point in time Adamawa United have no money to travel for a match. He said he had to source for money and give it to the team's Manager to avert loosing a match that could result in relegating Adamawa United.

Mr. Zira said one of the primary requirements to play in the league is to have functional office outside the Ministry or Sports Council. He stated that when he took over he writes to the Governor and approval was given to him resulting in having a befitting office for the two clubs at Bekaji. Mr. Zira stated that prior to this development, they had one room allocated to them in the Ministry as office of the club.

He stressed that he has changed the negative narrative of Adamawa United and Queens Players from arriving match venues the day of a match to arriving three days before the match and he has ensured payment of full allowances of the players. 
In respect to ensuring development is recorded in the club, Mr. Zira revealed that he has started making communication with clubs from Denmark and Portugal, and very soon they will start coming to the state to scout for players and bring development to football.

According to Mr. Zira he has introduced transparency and accountability in the clubs where all the management staff have to sign all the documents involving finances to avert fraud.

The Chairman of the Clubs stated that the clubs are facing challenges of vehicle. He said presently the vehicle the clubs are using to travel to match venues across the country is in bad condition. He disclosed that it results in stress and fatigue which is affecting the players performances in the league but we expressed optimism that the government will do the needful as the Chief of Staff to the Governor is always enquiring what is happening about in the team.

Mr. Zira said he has made effort to hire three commercial buses to be conveying the players to match venues; he was billed N760 thousand to play a match in Southern part of the country which he said is too expensive for the club due to the financial crisis the club found itself in.
He decried the salary paid to Adamawa United players. According to him, only six players are paid N80 thousand monthly in the club compared to their counterparts in other clubs who earned the at least salary of N350 thousand monthly.  This he said has made some players who the team intended to sign not to come to Adamawa United.

With regard to returning to NPFL, the Chairman was optimistic that the club has quality players who can promote the team to the Premiership. Mr. Zira further explained that Adamawa United were cheated in eight of the matches they played this season because of poor officiating. He said some of the match officials were penalized but Adamawa United have lost points from their acts. He rated Adamawa United Players as one of the best in the league. He said they defeated Enyimba and Warri Wolves which proved their quality.

He further disclosed that he is working towards looking at the business angle for the club to buy and keep players and later sale them for profit. He said he has succeeded in generating millions of naira to Plateau State when he was in charge of Mighty Jet FC.

Mr. Zira explained that 95 percent of Adamawa United players came with their clearance. These players may leave with free transfer. But assured that he will work towards reviving teams like Makwada United, Jimeta United among others so that they will be a feeder team to Adamawa United.

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