This Day/allAfrica

The much hyped Arsenal pre-season tour of Nigeria, which was to have kicked off with a match against the Super Eagles on August 5 is now off following the decision of the English club to postpone the trip.

In a posting on the club’s website Thursday, the London outfit said: “Arsenal Football Club has announced it is reluctantly postponing its proposed trip to Nigeria this summer.”

The Gunners declined to go into specific details for the postponement but only said: “The club has taken the decision as a result of complexities linked to the planned game against the Super Eagles on Saturday, August 5 in Abuja.”

According to the Arsenal Marketing Director, Angus Kinnear: “Bringing a top-level club to an international market is always complicated and logistically challenging. With the proposed match in Nigeria planned for early August, we could not get comfortable on everything needed to satisfy our requirements, so we have reluctantly taken the decision to postpone the team’s visit.”

Kinnear continued: “We have a huge and loyal following in Africa, and we are sorry that the team will not be visiting this summer. However, we have a long-term commitment to Nigeria and we are already making plans for a visit next summer.

“In addition, we also have some exciting forthcoming activities planned with our commercial partners in Nigeria – Emirates, Airtel and Malta Guinness, which will kick off in the next few weeks.”

However, the club’s decision may not be unconnected to the fact that the pitch of the Abuja National Stadium, where the match was to have taken place, is not in very good condition.

According to reports about N30 million will be needed to get the pitch back into its proper shape but even if the money is available there might not be enough time to complete the grassing before the now cancelled friendly.

Only recently Sports Minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi said the Federal Government could not be armtwisted into rushing to fix the stadium on account of Arsenal’s visit to the country. Read more…