Kano Pillars were confirmed to be relegated from the 2021-22 NPFL season after they found themselves below the red line for the first time since 2001. Sai Masu Gida, as they are popularly known, may have, however, secured a backdoor entry back to the NPFL ahead of the 2022-23 season.
After an underwhelming start to the season in which they found themselves in the lower half of the table, the four-time NPFL champions found renewed vigour and enthusiasm in the second half of the season and looked like they would escape the drop with a run of impressive results. Their fans’ behaviour, however, ensured that they were docked three points by the LMC as punishment for their bad behaviour. After their ex-chairman Surajo Jambul’s assault on an assistant referee in their Matchday 31 home clash against Dakkada FC, they received another suspended three point deduction.
With the season coming to an end, the club had 45 points after their Matchday 37 defeat to Nasarawa United, leaving them two points adrift of safety before an appeal filed before the LMC by Dakkada FC saw the club’s suspended sentence activated. A further three points were deducted from their total, leaving them five points off 16th place with only one game left in the season.
As a result of the ruling, the club have joined MFM FC in being confirmed to be relegated from the NPFL this season. Reports coming out of Kano Pillars suggests that the club is willing to file for an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland in a bid to reverse the deduction.
Further reports from Kano also suggest that the club has found an alternative that would allow them to remain in the NPFL for the 2022-23 season. Gombe-based Doma United FC secured promotion to the NPFL following their victory in the NNL Group A, but the club seems to be willing to sell their slot to Kano Pillars for around #250 million. If the deal goes through, both sides will swap places in the Nigerian football pyramid for the 2022-23 season.
The case of slot-buying to remain in the NPFL is quickly becoming a menace as the practice is not seen anywhere in the developed world. Kwara United bought an NPFL slot in 2019 which allowed them to return to the league at the expense of Delta Force FC, who had also bought the slot from Kada City FC. Allowing clubs to buy slots to remain in the league works against the integrity of the NPFL, and the LMC must put legislation in place to ensure it does not happen between Kano Pillars and Doma United.