Controversy in the Nigeria National League as the second-tier table is dismissed and relegation playoffs organised five months after the season.
Joy Cometh FC have declined to participate in the Nigeria National League relegation playoffs and have called for justice to prevail or they take all necessary actions including seeking the intervention of international bodies like the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) and FIFA.
Joy Cometh FC finished just above the relegation spot in the NNL Group B2, ending the 2020/21 second-tier season 11th on the table in August 2021, four points clear of Apex Krane FC.
And with that, the club celebrated safety and ramped up preparations for the 2021/22 season which they thought they had qualified automatically going by the NNL rule book that guides each season only for an unexpected twist to come up four months later.
The NNL annual general meeting was held in December 2021 in Edo with plans to prepare for the new season but was reportedly hijacked by a few dissenting parties who led the charge for the clubs to have impromptu relegation playoffs and got signatures to that effect.
The playoffs include the bottom four teams in each NNL group even though only the bottom two teams were originally supposed to be relegated meaning four originally safe teams were being forced to once again fight for a spot in the NNL with teams that had already been relegated.
One of those four safe teams is Joy Cometh FC who blatantly refused to take part in the playoffs citing the illegality of the whole thing.
The administrators of Joy Cometh Football Club have issued a passionate plea for justice to the Nigeria National League (NNL), League Management Committee (LMC), Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the National Ministry of Youth and Sports by extension.
This was done in a press conference held in Lagos on Saturday 29 January 2021 which included the leading hierarchy of the club.
Joy Cometh FC hierarchy from left to right: Jide Oguntuwashe (chief coach), Olusanya Ogunlari (General Secretary), Tosin Ojekale (Director of Corporate Affairs) and Segun Ajiroba (general manager)
General Manager Segun Ajiroba, Tosin Ojekale the director of corporate affairs and Olusanya Ogunlari, Joy Cometh’s general secretary were the pioneers alongside the head coach of the football team, Jide Oguntuwashe.
Tosin Ojekale the Director of Corporate Affairs outlined the efforts the club has made and their plans to tackle this situation in his speech.
“So far we have not received any response from them (NFF and the Ministry of Sports), we are hoping that now that the CAF Nations Cup is over for Nigeria we will get a response from them” Ojekale responded when asked if they had informed the authorities of Nigeria football of the issue.
Ojekale also added, “As far as we are concerned, we are still in the league and we are making sure that this is not a distraction for us in preparing for the new season. We are very optimistic that the challenges will be resolved before the season starts, we are playing preseason matches.”
But he made it abundantly clear that Joy Cometh FC do not intend to accept this decision. “We will try as much as possible to follow the laid down principles but we are willing to go to CAS if there’s no solution.” Ojekale asserted to the press.
General Secretary, Olusanya Ogunlari also echoed that sentiment and gave a clearer description of the club’s efforts to solve this problem.
General secretary of Joy Cometh FC, Olusanya Ogunlari briefing the press on the illegality of the NNL relegation playoffs
“Our letters were delivered to the NFF by courier service and the Ministry of Sports through their email,” said Ogunlari.
He rounded up his passionate address by stating once again that the club is ready to go through every legal means possible to get the justice they seek.
“This is not just a fight for Joy Cometh FC, it is a fight for justice, whatsoever happens we cannot back out now if not a precedent will be laid, we are trying to resolve this as soon as possible.”
“We have Court of Arbitration for sports, we have FIFA ethical committee, some people somewhere will some day pick up our document and give us what we deserve. If we discover that there is no response from the NFF and ministry of sports, we will send a second letter and if there is still no response, we will advance to CAS in search of a solution.