After six intense match days to the start of the 2023/24 Nigeria Premier Football League season, the management of the league has decided to land its disciplinary hammer on Heartland following their conduct in their 1-1 home draw against Rivers United on Wednesday.
The Naze Millionaires failed in their bid to beat the Pride of Rivers at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri after their lead through Onyekachi Okafor was cancelled out by Farouk Mohammed for Rivers United.
During that fixture, the club through its players and officials contravened the Framework and rules of the league, making the managers of the NPFL wield the big stick.
It will also be recalled that Katsina United were the first team to be sanctioned by the league management body in the 2023/24 season after they failed to provide adequate security in their game against Sunshine Stars.
Heartland break NPFL rules
According to the statement released by the NPFL management, Heartland broke the league rules when players and officials encroached on the pitch to protest a decision by the match officials during the match.
🚨BREAKING: Heartland Fined 1m Naira, To Play Next League Game Behind Closed Doors
The NPFL has charged Heartland FC for breaching its Framework & Rules of #NPFL24 following the pitch encroachment of their players & officials to protest a decision by the match officials during… pic.twitter.com/feRxW7dTlI
— MikeThePundit (@Mike_ThePundit) November 3, 2023
The protest came at a time when the ball was alleged not to have crossed the Rivers United goal line by the match officials but the home fans, players, and officials felt otherwise.
It then led to the stoppage of the game as the players and officials were visibly upset by the decision and decided to protest against it.
However, the match officials stood by their initial decision and the game went on to finish as a draw.
The NPFL punishes Heartland
The statement from the league body reads thus:
“Heartland have been charged for breaching the Framework & Rules of #NPFL24 following the pitch encroachment of their players & officials to protest a decision by the match officials during their game vs Rivers Utd on Wednesday, November 1, 2023.
“A fine of N1 million has been imposed on the Owerri club for encroaching into the field of play in the face of a recent warning letter.
“Heartland's next home match at their ground, Dan Anyiam Stadium, in Owerri will be played behind closed doors.
“The club have also been ordered to put in place an effective matchday security arrangement to avoid any recurrence that will lead to severe sanctions.
“Heartland have further been directed to pay the issued fine within 14 days as failure to do so will amount to a continuous breach of #NPFL24 Framework & Rules, & could lead to additional sanctions,” concludes the statement.
Meanwhile, following that ban, their home fixture against Bayelsa United on match day 8 will be behind closed doors.
More trouble for Heartland
Heartland have found themselves in more trouble following that decision by the league body.
The Naze Millionaires have not made the best start to the new season following the triumph in the second division last season.
Heartland won the Nigeria National League (NNL) Super 8 at the expense of Kano Pillars, Katsina United, and Sporting Lagos to return to the elite division.
However, they have made a slow start to the season after six league games. They have been able to only garner four points and are the only NPFL side yet to win a game this season.
This article was most recently revised and updated 4 weeks ago