Paschal Agonsi
Better Everyday

Nigeria & the EPL Balance of Trade

Wilfred-Ndidi EPL

A strong opinion on how the English Premier League (EPL) is affecting Nigeria’s Football Development

The business of football is good players and big audience. Nigeria is blessed with 200 million people. We have the both the players and the audience. What’s really killing our football is unhealthy foreign competition and unfavourable balance of trade. 

It’s really embarrassing that in 2021, the EPL is the most watched league in Nigeria. And very worrisome that 99% of Nigerian Footballers (I haven’t met the 1% yet) want to play in the EPL. And it’s sad that our industry is focused on exporting players rather than exporting football content.

Our football system needs to change as we are losing more money than gaining from the current way of doing things. Most especially, we are endangering the future. Here’s a balance of trade analysis on how the EPL is really crippling our football economy.

  • Only 6 Nigerians play in the EPL: Ola Aina, Josh Maja (yet to make an appearance), Alex Iwobi, Seyi Ajayi, Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho. Soccerway
  • Transfermarkt reports 312 out of 512 players in EPL are from foreign countries, about 62.7%
  • Average EPL salary $4m per year (statista.com, 2020)
  • Nigerian Earnings (pre-tax): $4m x 6players = $24m
  • Nigeria Earnings after tax (45%) = $13m
  • Deficit balance of trade: $13m – $222m = -$209m

odion-ighalo- EPL
Out of the EPL: Ighalo welcomes Middle-East Challenge

What can $222m per year do for Nigeria’s Football?

Let’s change it to Naira first: $1/N380 (CBN rate not black market c.480)

$222m x N380 = N84 billion Naira!!!

If we pay each NPFL player 10 million Naira per year, we haven’t still touched the money at all. 10m x 20 clubs x 30 players = N6 billion

Let’s pay each NPFL player 20 million per year, that’s about N12 billion

Give clubs N1 billion each for stadium renovation, training facilities, administration, etc that’s about N20 billion.

That’s about 32 billion and we still haven’t spent half of the money that we pay every year just to watch the EPL!

NPFL vs EPL
NPFL vs EPL

Let’s not lie to ourselves that Messi and Ronaldo are better than our boys in Kano and Abeokuta. Just give them 1% of Messi wages and see the difference. All they need is better welfare package and good work conditions plus good coaches. This is not impossible.

What’s impossible is for the EPL and foreign leagues to accommodate the millions of local talents here in Nigeria. Only 6 Nigerians play in the EPL!! The current balance of trade is creating deep poverty in the country.

We are only enriching others by selling players for peanuts and importing football content at huge loss, considering both the actual and opportunity costs!

Very many beautiful football careers die early in this country. I believe it’s a worthy sacrifice to stop watching the EPL and face our future together. The prosperity of the country depends on us.

We can all change our ways now, or wait till later. It’s already enough.

Paschal Agonsi is the founder of Turf Season Super League, a grassroots football development project which is gaining world-wide attention for local footballers.

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