For the second consecutive seasons, Kwara United finished fourth on the final Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) table, to achieve consistency as against former characteristics of always fighting against the drop. The Club’s Chairman, Kumbi Titiloye said that the new found status is still ‘works in progress’, even as he pledged to build positively on the successes achieved so far. He spoke to sportsbash.com.ng on the challenges of running the club, and other related issues.
How would you assessment the just concluded NPFL season, especially in relation to Kwara United’s exploits?
Well, in every endeavour in life, there must be challenges, and ours is not peculiar. I can say it here that out of the seven teams that struggled when it comes to inadequate financial muscles, six finished the season in the last six, and the last competed for a continental ticket. That’s to tell you that whatever the challenges that you have in life, you must continue to move forward and work towards your set goals.
Kwara United FC in the last two seasons ran on a tight budget, and that tightness helped us get to where we ended, the fourth position. We were aspiring to do better, but, things will improve very soon.
Altogether, it has been a season of ups and downs…a season of surprises and heartbreaks.
Kwara United FC ended fourth in the previous season, 2022/2021 season, same as this season. Do you think it’s because there are some things left undone?
Well, these are things that cannot be said in public. We are planning to work towards rectifying some of these challenges next season. When we came in, it took us time to understand the challenges and draw backs that have affected the team for a long time now. And immediately we identified them, we worked on them, and that’s why, instead of fighting relegation season-in-season-out like it used to be before now, we are competing for honours at the top.
Government has done well, and has continued to do well for the team. We all know the financial stand of the state, vis-a-vis other sectors to be taken care of. Based on the financial capability at the disposal of the government to the club, they have done well.
Our prayers to the government, through the State House of Assembly were to have our subventions increased. We need more funds, to be able to compete well, and also give back to the state. This is because, if we had gotten what we require, by today, we would have been transferring players abroad and playing in the continent, and also, making a lot of money for the government.
I would like government to see Kwara United FC beyond social services entity. It can become a strong brand that will make money for the state.
Going by records, most of the players will run out of their contracts with the club at the end of the season. What’s the way forward?
We are working on that. Those that will move will do so, just like those that will remain too. There is always a beginning and an end to everything. And within those three years, I am sure there are some younger boys, especially from here, that have improved in their games that can fit into Kwara United system.
What changes are we expecting in the technical department?
It’s work in progress, for now.
Is Coach Abdullahi Usman Biffo coming back?
It’s also work in progress.
How would you describe the league, and what would be your advice to the LMC going forward?
I am not an adviser to the LMC. They know what to do, and we also know their constraints, financially. From feelers we are getting, things will improve this coming season.
And the stakeholders, do you think there are things they are not doing that the club is missing?
Well, like I said, we identified loopholes in Kwara United, which we are still blocking as we speak, and that’s helping us a lot and one of our greatest problems is from our marketing strategy. The novel idea in Kwara United….I am sure you know we had a jersey launch. The private sector players don’t want to dump their money where they will not get the commensurate leverage. So, we are now making them to understand that Kwara United is now a brand. And they have started looking at it that way. For instance, a politician, Mallam Saliu Mustapha sponsored our last home game of the season against MFM FC. That’s one of the signs to show that we are beginning to understand that concept. With time, the required sponsorships will fall in place. And for now, the products we have are the replica jerseys and the matches we play. We just had our Board meeting, and those are part of the things we discussed. In the next few weeks, you will begin to see our plans unfold.
How about the preparations for the Aiteo Cup?
We are ready for it, as we are still intact, and training hard. We have been pitched against Yobe Desert Stars in the First Round. We will do our best
Has been the Chairman of Kwara United really challenged you personally, maybe putting you under pressure?
When I was appointed Chairman of Kwara United FC, I was never given any target or mandate. But, If I am wise, I should know that I was invited to change the fortunes of the club for better. And I don’t see it as pressure. I see it as a challenge. And as we match on, whatever obstacle we notice, we tackle them. And so far so good, here we are.
Are you disappointed that Kwara United finished fourth, without a continental ticket?
I wouldn’t say I am disappointed, I would say, based on the intricacies of Nigerian football, we are where we are today. But we will work harder next season. We have great plans for next season.
And on the issue of ex-players and officials who were asking for the money owed them, what efforts have you made to have them paid?
Just like I said before now, I don’t know much about the debts because they were incurred before my coming. We pushed at a point, and government gave out some money. I did not interfere in who gets what out of it because I don’t know those who were owed. The records were then with the Ministry, and I think they took care of that.
I feel their pains. But it’s the situation that we are faced with for now. There is no enough money available to the club presently. We will continue to appeal to the government to assist us to get them paid.
But the way some of them have gone about it, I just believe that’s what they know best, but it’s not the proper way. They need to follow the proper channel in solving the issue.
Kwara United owes them, right. But you cannot rule out the fact that the government under which the debts were owed have totally left the stage. The management has so changed. A new government came in, and a new management came in. So, if you are bringing up such an issue, it requires logic and patience, not violence. This is because; the records are there that they were owed.
But the major reason I personally said I would not be part of the sharing when some money was released was that, there are too many bogus claims, which are not even good for public consumption. How can I owe a Curator and Drivers sign-on fees? A Marketing Manager was also being owed sign-on fee? So, it’s not something for public consumption just like I said. Government will see the best way to address all of that.