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Kano fans upset by Kano Pillars’ dwindling fortunes in NPFL

The teeming fans of Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) giants, Kano Pillars, are reeling in serious discomfort following the unsatisfactory performances of their darling club…

The teeming fans of Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) giants, Kano Pillars, are reeling in serious discomfort following the unsatisfactory performances of their darling club in the ongoing season. 

Although they were used to celebrating titles, the thoroughly starved football fans have not celebrated any Kano Pillars title since 2014 when the club won its last NPFL diadem. 

Unfortunately, an end to the long and excruciating wait appears not to be in sight as the ‘Masu gida boys’ as Kano Pillars are called, are presently struggling to avoid relegation to the lower division. 

As the first stanza of the 2022 NPFL season comes to a close this weekend, instead of being among the title contenders, Kano Pillars are languishing in 14th position with a paltry 21 points from a possible 54 points in 18 matches. 

Only two points are separating embattled Pillars from the last four clubs on the log and this is a rude shock to the enthusiastic fans of the club. There are, therefore, fears that if something is not done urgently to arrest the slide, one of the most illustrious clubs in the Nigerian domestic football league would be relegated at the end of the season.

Speaking to Trust Sports on the underwhelming performance of Kano Pillars, Danladi Usman ‘Ajebota’, a resident of Kofar Doka, Zaria, Kaduna state and a die-hard supporter of the club said the dwindling fortunes of the club should be blamed on the state government.

He said “In my candid opinion, the biggest problem Pillars are facing is caused by the state government. Pillars are playing their home matches in Kaduna. And any team that comes to the Ahmadu Bello stadium to play against Pillars feels so much at home because the match is not being held in Kano. The fear factor is already gone.

“Even in international football, there is an advantage we call ‘feel at home’ with the home fans cheering on their players from the stands. But Pillars have continued to struggle to win their home matches in Kaduna without their fans.

“I am blaming the state government because they have failed to renovate the Sani Abacha stadium for Pillars to return home. It is shameful that for close to three years now, Pillars have been wandering from one state to another in search of where to play their home matches.”

He also blamed Pillars’ woes on the failure of the management committee to find good replacements for players who left the club to join rival teams in the NPFL.

According to him, players like Ali Mallam, Chris Madaki, Nyima Nwagua, Ayeleso Surajo have left yawing vacuums in the team. He said apart from Tamara Ezekiel, other newly recruited players have failed to fill the big shoes left behind by some of the talented players.

“Some of the old players like Captain Rabiu Ali, Muhammad Damu, Usman Fahad are doing their best but they are not getting the necessary support from the other players.

“The management has also failed. Honestly, they have been running the club like a political party. What will surprise you is that even when they lose, they appear to be nonchalant about it.

“You will see them acting as nothing happened. They have compelled me to question their love for the club. It’s like they are just after what will go into their pockets and not the growth of the club.”

The disturbed Kano Pillars fan summed up by saying that taking Kano Pillars from Kaduna to Katsina is like going from frying pan to fire. He hinged his fears on the no-love-lost situation between fans of Kano Pillars and Katsina United.

Another ardent supporter, Abdulqadir Bello, popularly known as ‘Black Pillars Fagge’ among other reasons, also lamented how the current government is holding back Kano Pillars.

“We are not happy. In the entire northern part of Nigeria, we are the best. We won our first trophy in 2009 and followed up with a treble from 2012 to 2014. That positive development was made possible by the then government that gave the club all the necessary support.

“And Football is team work. It is about the players, coaches, management committee and the supporters. Unfortunately, for reasons best known to the present management, fans of Pillars have been pushed aside. The fans are no longer taken along in decision making.

“What is hurting us the most is that the current chairman of the club was chosen among us. He was a member of the supporters club. I am talking about Surajo Shuaibu Jambul. We sometimes wonder if he has forgotten about us. We are not enjoying such behaviour at all.

“Now from Kaduna, we’re playing in Katsina because the government has refused to repair our stadium. We don’t even know why they asked us to leave Kaduna. We are, therefore, appealing to the Kano state government to please help us repair Sani Abacha stadium, Kofar Mata.

“We are also asking the governor to please constitute a committee that will investigate the leadership of the club. Let us know what is going on. We are not happy with the win today, lose tomorrow style. Blowing hot and cool,” he stated.

Reacting to some of the concerns raised by the fans, the Media Officer of the club, Alhaji Lurwanu Idris Malikawa, said Pillars are still a dreaded team in the NPFL. 

“We are not where we are supposed to be on the table but we shall bounce back soon. On the issue of playing home away from our home, I can assure you the government will look into it. In the next few weeks, we are coming back to the Sani Abacha stadium in Kano.”

 Malikawa, therefore, reiterated that fans of the club should be patient as he said the glory days will return very soon.

“Of course, no one is happy with the present situation in the club. There is no leader who will go to sleep when his team is not doing well. We should all exercise patience and continue to pray,” he admonished the fans.

On his part, the Director of sports, Kano State Sports Commission, Bashari Ahmad Maizare, also said it is worrisome that the last time Kano Pillars won the domestic league title was in 2014. And their second FA Cup came in 2019 when they defeated Niger Tornadoes on penalties in Kaduna. 

“It is not good that Pillars are playing their home matches outside. They have lost so many advantages that can help the team to win trophies and represent Nigeria.

 He also acknowledged the motivational role of the fans club as he said Pillars are struggling because only a handful of their fans still follow them to Kaduna and other match venues.

But amid the declining fortunes of the club, Pillars are undoubtedly among the highest paid players in the Nigerian topflight.

Unlike their contemporaries in other clubs in the NPFL, they have no issues of delayed salaries or match bonuses as they are paid their salaries along with civil servants in the state.

In addition, since the League Management Company (LMC) abolished sign-on fees, they are paid enhanced salaries as what is supposed to be their sign-on fees is divided by 12 and added to their monthly salaries.

This was collaborated by the Director of Sports who said “The Subvention to Kano Pillars is not monthly but according to the budget submitted to the government before the commencement of every season. What the government does is to release the approved funds in either two or three instalments -the first and second round of the season.

“The players are not receiving their monthly salary only. Their annual sign-on fee is divided by 12 and paid together with their monthly salary. 

“Based on this arrangement, some players earn as much as N700,000, N800,000 and some earn even more than that. 

“In the 2019-2020 season, the club gulped N18m every month.”

It is against this background that whenever Pillars are struggling, tongues continue to wag uncontrollably.

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