‘Those who ‘killed’ Bendel Insurance FC must not return to Edo Sports Commission’

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As the people of Edo State await Governor Godwin Obaseki’s appointment of officials into the newly formed Edo Sports Commission, former Golden Eaglets and Super Falcons’ Coach, Godwin Izilien has advised against bringing back some people who, he alleged, ‘killed’ Bendel Insurance Football Club.

The club was one of the founders of the Nigerian Premier League in 1972, and it remained in the top-flight division until trouble started in the 2007–08 season due to a management dispute over who controlled the club.

At a point, two different clubs claimed the name of Insurance FC. They were relegated at the end of the 2007–08 season after finishing in last place, the first relegation from the top level in the club’s history.Though the ownership crisis was settled in 2008, with government taking control, but Bendel Insurance FC never remained the same, as its financial problems continued.

In early 2009, Insurance FC was threatened with having its participation suspended due to a backlog of debts and fines. The club was eventually banished to Ilorin for its final home game of the season after crowd trouble in a 1–1 tie against Shooting Stars FC of Ibadan, thereby ending their promotion chances.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Izilien said it would be a ‘sad moment’ for sports in Edo State if Governor Obaseki decided to bring back some officials who ruined Bendel Insurance FC.

“I want the governor to do his research very well before arriving on names of people that will make up Edo Sports Commission. He should consult widely to know the characters of people behind the ‘death of Bendel Insurance FC so that the problem won’t reoccur. There are some individuals who must not come near Edo Sports Commission because of what they did to our sports while they were in office,” Izilien stated.

Governor Obaseki has already named sports analyst, Godwin Dudu-Orumen as chairman of Edo Sports Commission, but there seems to be anxiety, particularly in the sports circle on the composition of other board members. Some athletes want former sports commissioner, Brown Ebewele named as Director General of the Commission because of his wide knowledge of grassroots sports.