Football Business: Ifeanyi Ubah versus Aliko Dangote, By Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello
They are two great men worthy of emulation by any upcoming or aspiring Billionaire and of course their wealth can be traced, no doubt.
In several ways, they have both shown interest in the round leather game and also, the most popular sports in Africa, if not in the globe. Billionaires in their own right, who has rightly invested home and abroad with visible achievements.
I remember Gabros Football club during my days as a Football administrator, their former team manager was a regular visitor at the then headquarters of the Nigeria Premier League in Abuja, and I recollect how hardworking and ambitious the club was. Just last year I heard they are back to the top flight under the name FC Ifeanyi Ubah. The Awka, Anambra state based club was bought over by Ifeanyi Ubah, the business mogul.
Ifeanyi Ubah employed a foreign coach, invested his money worth of millions of Naira on the team, so far, he attends all his team matches, obviously, he is supervising to know how monies spent are being expended and I wish him all the best.
This describes the ideal football club owner as having deep pockets, mercurial, and not faint-hearted. Not forgetting Ifeanyi Ubah was a footballer, unknown to many people, he was a player under Fanny Amun when he was the U17 coach before he was dropped.
He has invested heavily in football, just recently, news erupted that he is mounting a new football pitch for the team in Awka. Great news, it is all moving in the ways of football development and giving back to the society, also in a way to help players realise their dreams to play professional football in the Premiership.
I think Mr Ubah should also strive to develop grassroot football and discover talents and not only established players in the league. Ifeanyi Ubah has written his name on the sands of indigenous football club ownership like Moshood Abiola funded Abiola Babes, Emmanuel Iwuanyawu funded Iwuanyanwu Nationale.
Aliko Dangote on the other hand doesn’t deem it necessary to invest in Nigerian football as it is no way as profitable and appealing, he feels there is no need to develop football at home but better to invest in England. Of course it is his money and who am I to dictate to a hardworking billionaire how to channel his wealth? Will he have the time to monitor his chain of businesses because football require adequate attention especially as a first timer? Football business is a different ball game, he has to be fully prepared.
Mr Dangote want to make money by breaking into the European market, I wouldn’t fault him either, he is an Arsenal fan, and a well-known business mogul, but Baba should please put small money into the Nigerian league, you can still commercialize your involvement in the league, make consultations.
Globacom is an indigenous company running the league and football in Nigeria profitably, maybe a leaf should be taken out of their book.
Chelsea FC is owned by Roman Abramovich, a Russian, however, my findings revealed that, Abramovich invested in football in his home country, Russia, and infact he constructed over 50 football pitches in his country, and also, sponsored coaches and sports related trainings amongst other ventures, long before he dabbled with Chelsea whilst some said he wants relevance in the British government, oh well…..
Safe to say, Aliko Dangote is going into Arsenal purchase with business on his mind, and why not? It is a viable and most commercially rewarding and prospering football investments with global audience. But, there is a popular African saying that goes like this, “charity begins at home” Mr Dangote’s football history and involvement in Africa and Nigeria is nothing to write home about, he was at a time reported to have given money to the super eagles for their win at the 2013 African cup of nations.
That’s all that can be attributed to him in Nigerian football. Surely, empowering the country`s favourite sport for its betterment and growth cannot be a bad thing, in fact, as a virgin nation of over 160million people, not to talk of the wider continent probabilities and potential global opportunities, it can only but turn out to be money well invested.
It won’t hurt to sponsor any of the lower football leagues, what about the women football league which is languishing in poverty, it is so poor and the girls go out there to play their hearts out week in, week out.
Of course, he can make money from Arsenal and unlike Nigeria football clubs, they are in the stock market, TV, commercialising, marketing, merchandising and it is not an English but a worldwide thing. Arsenal is a global brand and investing in it will make it practicable but what happens to the fate of football in Nigeria. He doesn’t seem to care. Haba Alhaji Dangote, Ke ya kuri (take it easy)
I will conclude by saying this, both men are after one thing, the unquestionable juicy fruits in football. Mr Ubah seem to be passionate about football, or has he other hidden agenda? as you cannot put anything past politicians, but so far his gesture is commendable, he has brought a lot of smiles to the faces of many in Nigeria.
Days of crisis in our football are long gone, the administrators are more stable with sponsors wooing the leagues. Good administration, articulate refereeing, coordinated fans and thousands turning up to watch league games at the stadium not forgetting the inclusion of live TV Coverage for matches.`
Patriotically, It can only make our millionaires/billionaires joyful and proud to put their money in football, the only tool that unite our already ethnicity and religion divided nation.
Journalist, Speaker, Change Agent, Sports for development Enthusiast , Advocacy