Rivers United have declared they would head to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to challenge the final Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) positions approved by the League Management Company (LMC) and ratified by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
The move is bound to cause disarray as CAF has set a deadline of Aug. 31 for federations to send in their inter-club representatives for the 2020/2021 season.
On Wednesday, the NFF sent out a press statement ratifying the final NPFL positions of teams, as recommended by the LMC. Plateau United were placed top, Enyimba second, and Rivers United third, based on a points-per-game model, after the league was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The PPG model left Rivers tied with Enyimba on points, and the LMC applied the head-to-head rule in deciding the tiebreak.
That ruling gave Enyimba, who beat Rivers United in the only fixture between the teams during the season, the second CAF Champions League spot.
Rivers United disputed the placings, claiming that, according to the LMC’s own tiebreak rule order, they should be in second place based on goals difference.
The LMC has argued that the application of force majeure — occasioned by the coronavirus outbreak — to end the league season means the usual rules no longer apply.
The statement also argued that Rivers United were not the only club affected by the unusual tiebreaker rules.
Rivers United are not prepared to accept that position, and Iyaye said the club would take its case to CAS as “a clear case of injustice and undue victimization”.
The case is unlikely to be decided before CAF’s August. 31 deadline.
If Rivers United prevail in Switzerland, the NFF will be compelled to make changes to its CAF representation.
It is not clear if this will be allowed by CAF.