7 minutes with China: Help! Nigerian football clubs are stuck in the past

It has been an interesting last three weeks for Nigerian club football as the transfer window came alive with a couple of them trying to out do one another in unveiling their players via social media.

I remember a sprite commercial in the 90s on television that went, “Image is nothing, sprite is everything” while a Miranda commercial also put some “Orange men” walking the streets of Lagos with folk at first running away from these men not knowing who they were until It was revealed they were part of a new Mirinda Orange promo.
Mirinda Orange Men

Brands then trued to open our eyes to the importance or imaging and how the eyes and consciousness are attracted to and remember outstanding things you see.

In Europe, especially in the immediate past transfer window, clubs went very creative to unveil their players on social media and it was amazing seeing them try to undo one another in a bid to show the world what new player had joined their fold, but as usual, Nigeria is the country that time forgot.

Back in the day, a simple press release would have announced a player had joined a club, but these days there is so much drama on social media.

The Paul Pogba announcement
In England, Manchester United put up so much in 2016 when they announced the signing of Paul Pogba via a twitter video that went viral.

Liverpool went one better by opening a fake twitter account, Announce Sallah Now that portrayed twitter followers inundating them with messages to announce the signing of Mohammed Sallah.

In the 17 second long video, Mohammed Sallah himself was scrolling through the messages on his smart phone, then looks up and says, “Sallah Announced.” which was creativity at its best.

Crystal Palace announced the signing of a new manager, Frank De Boer with a short video of white smoke coming out of a restaurant Chimney, reminiscent of how the Vatican announces a new pope has been elected.
Crystal Palace use white smoke to announce new manager

These and many more creative ways have been designed by clubs in Europe, especially England to announce the signing of new players.

According to www.voiceboxagency.co.uk, the fan engagement league is one of the most fiercely contested competitions in world football, played by the top teams, with an audience of millions.

The fan engagement league is one that has no final whistle and does more marketing than you would imagine.

The website continues that “With video content accounting for 74% of all consumer driven traffic, it’s easy to see why football clubs are increasingly choosing video to increase fan engagement. From pre and post match interviews, to the unveiling of new players – as demonstrated by Manchester United’s epic unveiling of Paul Pogba last summer – video is the medium which Millennials and Generation Z gravitate towards most.

www.quintly.com goes ahead to analyse that Manchester United have the highest number of fans on Facebook, totaling seventy million, one hundred and fifteen thousand, four hundred and seventy two as at August 2017, followed by Arsenal with thirty seven million, four hundred and thirty eight thousand five hundred and sixty one.

The lowest by an EPL club is newly promoted Huddersfield with one hundred and two thousand two hundred and eighty one.

On twitter, Manchester United still lead with thirteen million two hundred and fifty three thousand five hundred and forty four with Arsenal still in second place with eleven million thirty seven thousand, four hundred and eighty two followers.

Rivers United sign Chinedu Udechukwu
Just like on face book, Huddersfield are last with one hundred and thirteen thousand one hundred and ninety six followers.

Barcelona, however, tops the world ranking with more than one hundred and two million facebook fans and forty million on twitter.

But Nigerian clubs seem to have been left behind, a worrying prospect.

According to Lolade Adewuyi on www.goalnigeria.com, only one Nigerian club, Enyimba is on the list of top 32 African clubs on social media.

Enyimba has a following of just 69, 091 in a list topped by Egypt’s Al Ahly with 16.8 million combined from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Google+.

Sad, when statistics show Nigeria is the most populous African country and prides itself as the Giant of Africa.

However, it seems that Nigerian club administrators just discovered social media, especially, whatsapp and insist everything they do must go on the platform but have so far lacked style, creativity and a will to be different.

Last week, Rivers United dealt us a horror show when they posted a photo of former Katsina United striker, Chinedu Udechuwku signing a piece of paper that should have been a contract with the club. With Udechukwu in that photo were the club secretary, Ahmed Abdulrahman and General Manager, Okey Kpalikwu.

First it seemed as though, all three just met in a Buka (local restaurant), asked the attendants to clear out the food and debris from one of the tables then posed for the photograph.

Then it also looked like none of them wanted to be in that place. From the looks on their faces, Udechukwu did not want to, but was somehow was forced to sign, just like in the movies.
Omoyele signs for Plateau United, or maybe Manchester United

Ahmed obviously did not want to be there, while Kpalikwu was angry about something, visibly.

There was no branding on the wall or anything to show that the environment or what they were doing had anything to do with a football club, but that is a Nigerian top division club with a budget going into hundreds of millions of naira.

When I put up that photograph on twitter and instagram these are a few of the responses I got.

From WajiniNwaji “Signing for Rivers United is not a smiling matter”

From Izuchi_ejiogu, “Lol. Africa is so mean” and then “nothing nice about us here”

Black Gambino, “The Rivers United folks look so thrilled being there”

Adebowale Adeyemi, “It only shows how players will be owed salaries. It starts from here”

Uncle P, “ The Rivers United people look like they are about to be posted to the Sambissa forest.”

Plateau sign Suswan and Swan Water
And many more of such comments were put up.

When League champions, Plateau United announced to the world via whatsapp that they had signed top scorer from Osun United, Tosin Omoyele, some twat in the picture wore a Manchester United jersey.

No regrets for calling him a twat unless of course he comes out with proof that Tosin is actually a Manchester United player who was on loan to Osun United or he is a staff of the former English champions, he had no right to wear a United jersey while his player was moving from Osun United to Plateau United.

He was actually smiling, when in fact it was a cheap Manchester United jersey probably bought in one of the local shops for less than a thousand five hundred naira.

Plateau United showed a photo of the club signing Peter Suswan and apart from the Team Manager or so of Plateau United wearing a club jersey with a logo on his chest, I noticed that they also used to occasion to announce a multi million naira endorsement deal with bottled water company, Swan Water.

How much did Swan Water pay for the advert to have their bottle and logo up there for the world to see? I am sure nothing, but nobody told them they had just advertised for the bottlers?

The same Plateau United announced that the club had signed Gambo Mohammed from Kano Pillars with a photograph of the signing in the office of the Team Manager.
Gombo Mohammed joins Plateau United

Though that photograph was not taken in the conference room of the club, but doesn’t the office of the Team Manager look a bit boring?

It could pass for the office of clerk, typist and secretary of a local government council secretariat in Nigeria.

Nothing in that office shows it has anything to do with a football club, but we are talking here of the Nigerian League champions who will play in the CAF Champions League next year.

Nigerian clubs need to shake off their social media lethargy or they will continue to be taken as an unserious lot by the 21st century advertisers.

Maybe Nigerian Premier League clubs may not be able to give out the kind of high end videos the Europeans churn out when they announce new players but these photographs in dark untidy rooms, some of them looking like “short time joints” (brothels) must be improved on.

The world is in 2017 so Nigerian football clubs must move away from the past. We are stuck far away in time

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