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African Super League: What do Nigerian clubs stand to gain?

The African Super League was formally announced yesterday in a ceremony headed by CAF President, Patrice Motsepe and attended by FIFA President, Gianni Infantino.

The competition is to be launched in August 2023 according to South African billionaire, Motsepe.

Borrowing its name “Super League” from the European Super League makes the idea questionable but if Wednesday’s announcement was a means to douse the coming questions, it did little in that regard.

How did the African Super League come to being?

A few weeks after some major European clubs were flagged off and roundly criticised for a classist move to form a Super League amongst one another, insinuations rose that something similar would come to being in Africa.

The details were sketchy at the time but the styles were similar and many Africans felt it wasn’t necessary – first because the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup were yet to be totally fine-tuned and secondly because it was rather classist.

The idea for the competition was to improve competition amongst clubs and raise good financial power but with CAF’s latest announcement opening up to more details, the overall benefit of many clubs on the continent are still fuzzy.

Some of the worries from football stakeholders on the continent point to the possibility of Africa being used as a laboratory for some of FIFA’s closet strategies.

What is the African Super League all about?

With its current worth stated to be $100m, the African Super League is coming after a meeting was held with 40 clubs across the continent.

The idea, according to Motsepe is to stir competition and improve football development in Africa. Participating teams also compulsorily must have a women’s team and an academy.

While the start date of the tournament has been revealed, its format is yet to be stated, but 16 countries are expected to be involved when it begins in a year’s time.

At least 197 matches will be played between May and August with the final expected to be in a Super-Bowl format.

“The CAF Executive Committee (“EXCO”) took a decision to launch the CAF Africa Super League in August 2022. This League will officially kick-off in August 2023,” Motsepe said in a CAF statement

“We announced on 3 July 2022 that the total prize money of the CAF Africa Super League will be USD 100 million, with the winner receiving USD 11.5 million.

“We intend paying each Member Association USD 1 million per annum from the CAF Africa Super League funds. We also intend allocating USD 50 million to CAF from these funds for Youth and Women’s football development and for all its other competitions to ensure that they are globally competitive.”

The expected prize money for the winner is significantly higher than what’s available for CAF Champions League winners and this has seen clubs savour the prospects of the competition.

Motsepe said he looks forward to a competition among all three CAF tournaments and expects others to also offer more in terms of finances.

“I want to be in a situation where there’s competition among all the leagues and I want the Champions League to even get more prize money, and to be competitive,” he said.

How will the African Super League be funded?

A lot has been said about what the league offers but few details have been given about where the money will come from.

The league is expected to be funded by funds obtained from broadcasting rights.

Yet-to-be confirmed rumours also have it that a Saudi company is ready to sponsor the project with FIFA also actively involved.

“Well, first of all, the Africa Super League is a completely different proposition than what was proposed in Europe, which was a kind of a breakaway thing outside of the structures,” Infantino said.

“This is done within the structure within Caf, within Fifa, within the football pyramid structure,” Gianni Infantino said about the competition.

Participating teams will earn more than $50m in total as the competition progresses but official details are yet to be revealed by CAF.

Motsepe however sees more to come in terms of value proposition, but a financial model is yet to be stated by the backers.

“My objective is to get money for football infrastructure, for players, club owners, stakeholders. We are talking about anything between $250m to $300m every year,” Motsepe said.

“If you look at the numbers, we are talking about $2.5m for each of the 24 clubs to use, to help with transport and accommodation but also to buy players.”

What’s in the African Super League for Nigerian clubs?

When the news of the tournament broke out some months ago, Nigeria’s Enyimba were mentioned as one of the teams expected to participate.

Then stated to be a tournament for 20 clubs, Enyimba were listed as one but with the latest revelation by CAF, especially as it concerns having a women’s team and an academy, many Nigerian clubs are not in good standing.

The largesse involved is however expected to encourage clubs to establish a women’s team and also get their academies functional.

Rivers United, Plateau United and a few others have the full package but movements in that regard will definitely be seen in the coming months, as the promise of money on offer will encourage clubs.

Enyimba notwithstanding have been one of Nigeria’s more regular presence in CAF competitions and will be strongly considered.