The 2023/2024 English Premier League season kicks off this weekend and as such, Fantasy managers have created their Fantasy Premier League (FPL) teams, hoping to compete in and possibly win the various FPL leagues they join. One such league is the UIMSA FPL League, a paid league, which promises big prizes for those who finish in the top three places. Although this is not its debut season, it is difficult to say with any certainty that the UIMSA FPL league is a credible one as the winners from the 2022/2023 season are yet to be rewarded for their troubles.

Last season, UIMSA hosted its FPL league which ambiguously promised big prizes to winning participants. Exactly what these prizes would be were not disclosed to the general public or to the participants who had to pay a registration fee of 500 naira and put in the work week in and week out to remain contenders for the winning spots.  For a league that accepted over 33 players, one would think that at some point this would have been addressed in a missive, a flyer or a broadcast message and knowledge of the prizes these fantasy managers were striving for would have been made public. Unfortunately, in an appalling display of poor communication, this never happened. The league concluded with the end of the Premier League season on the 28th of May, 2023, over two months ago and as it stands, the general public, participants and winners are still in the dark about what prizes stood to be won and were supposedly won. 

The winners, namely, Ikponmwosa Ebengho, Mark Obeya, and Olamide Egbeyemi who placed first to third respectively, have yet to receive any prize money, as expected in lieu of all the secrecy. There has been no official communication with them, leaving these poor men in limbo as to when to expect their prizes. I went through the UIMSA Executive budget for the last tenure and found that first place is entitled to 10,000 Naira, and the two runners-up are entitled to 5,000 Naira each.

According to the immediate past Sports Secretary, Mr. Benjamin Ajoku, the league was supposed to be self-funded, with the prize money coming from the 500 Naira paid by the participants to join. He further disclosed that for the sake of transparency, the participants were directed to pay into the UIMSA account. The league, however, ran into the new tenure and when he asked for the money from the new Executive Council, he was informed that there was no money, at least not enough to pay the winners. A regrettable and understandable but also easily avoided mistake.
In light of all these, Mr Ajoku reportedly asked the new Sports Secretary not to go ahead with the UIMSA FPL for the upcoming season until the outstanding issues are sorted out. It appears that advice has fallen on deaf ears with the league poised to commence this weekend. We wonder what lies in store for the unsuspecting managers signing up for the new season and what the plan now is to compensate last season’s winners, if any.

Ifeanyichukwu Achife

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