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Tony Elumelu Aims to Acquire Football Club

Tony Elumelu, a Nigerian business billionaire and philanthropist, has expressed interest in acquiring a team in the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL), which might signal a dramatic shift in local football ownership.

Elumelu, chairman of Heirs Holdings and the United Bank for Africa (UBA), hinted at his plans in a recent exchange on X, formerly Twitter, following talks with Sports Minister John Owan Enoh. This conversation takes place amid ongoing debates over the role of private investment in rejuvenating Nigerian football.

The topic gathered traction after a suggestion was made to notable firms to invest in NPFL clubs as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs. This notion envisioned individuals such as Elumelu gaining ownership of clubs, potentially increasing competition and upgrading the league.

Elumelu responded enthusiastically to the concept, noting that he is in contact with Minister John Owan Enoh regarding its possibilities. He mentioned being approached by the minister and other key persons about buying a team to help the NPFL flourish.

Elumelu is a titan in the Nigerian corporate landscape, with leadership roles in Heirs Holdings, UBA Group, and Transcorp Plc solidifying his status as the continent’s most powerful investor. His recent accomplishment in bringing UBA to excellent financial performance strengthens his status as one of the country’s leading corporate executives.

UBA’s fiscal year 2023 financial report shows a significant increase in profits, outperforming expectations amid adverse economic conditions. UBA’s profits increased by 257 percent to N607.7 billion ($468.8 million), demonstrating Elumelu’s effective leadership and the company’s resiliency.

This development is consistent with previous professions of interest by Nigerian corporate moguls in football ownership. Aliko Dangote, chairman of the Dangote Group and Africa’s richest man, had previously contemplated owning English football team Arsenal FC in 2021. With Elumelu potentially entering the domestic football scene, there is increased excitement about the prospective transfer of NPFL clubs under private ownership.

As conversations about Elumelu’s proposed business continue, stakeholders predict transformative implications on Nigerian football, including infrastructural development and enhanced league competition. With a track record of encouraging expansion and innovation, Elumelu’s entry into football ownership might be a watershed moment in Nigerian sports history.

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