Players of Sunshine Stars on Tuesday, March 30, protested on the streets of Akure against plans by the Ondo State Government to privatise the state-owned club.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu had spoken about the club’s privatisation on March 18, when he received the Forum of Elders in Sports in Ondo State at his office in Akure.
During the visit, Akeredolu said there was a need to look towards a new system for the management of sports and football club ownership in the country.
He stressed on how expensive it is to manage sports development, stating that government could no longer fund clubs and sponsor sports adequately because of the current financial situation in the country.
Sunshine Stars, who have gone 11 games without a win, are 17th on the Nigeria Professional Football League table.
On hearing of the plans of the state government, players and officials, who are being owed seven months salaries, took to the streets in protest.
The players, who carried placards, went straight to the Governor’s Office, where they were addressed by the Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
While speaking to the protesting players, Aiyedatiwa said that the government’s intentions were best for the players’ welfare.
“We have been monitoring what is happening to Sunshine Stars; they are not improving and they are owed. So, we thought of how we could help the club. We met and we wanted a way the team will grow and will be in Akure with the same name. That is what government is thinking presently, we have not sold the club.
“We are just looking for people to support and sponsor because government cannot do it alone, we will not lie to you, and it is what will help you.
“For you to move up from where you are in the league, we must involve sponsors, these are the arrangements, and if it will get to that stage, we will involve all stakeholders. We can’t do it behind your back; anyone that said the club has been sold should bring the receipt. So, relax, the team remains in Akure.”
However, Governor Akeredolu has gone ahead to set up a three-man committee chaired by Aiyedatiwa to map out plans to privatise Sunshine Stars.
The state Commissioner for Finance, Wale Akinterinwa and the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Sir Charles Titiloye, are also members of the committee reports The Punch.
According to a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Richard Olatunde, on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, the committee will handle the administration of the Ondo State Football Agency, which has been dissolved.
The statement read in part:
“The committee will be in place for 60 days from today, March 30, 2021 during which it must find a suitable investor to take over the Sunshine Star Football Club on a Public Private Partnership arrangement”.