Sports business as a viable investment opportunity in Nigeria

Polaris Sports

By Ademola Kadiri Afolabi

Often time, sports lovers around Nigeria spend hours upon hours soaking in foreign content to satisfy their interests. The likes of the NBA, Premier League, La Liga, Formula 1, and the UEFA Champions League have become products in very high demand on these shores, which has necessitated that these companies try to milk the benefits of the demand. Partnerships, incentivized promos and activations have become the order of the day, and it seems there is no end in sight.

Football as the king of sports has such a cult following in Nigeria that it is not uncommon for bars, event centres, bars, and hotels use football as a way of getting people to come around. They take it as a form of onboarding process to sell other commodities and services. It is a common joke in football circles that there are more Chelsea fans in Nigeria than in West London, where the English team originate from.

Nigerians and Africans, in general, love their sports, but it is quite sad that for the interest in sports, local content is not getting enough traction and leeway in the minds and thoughts of the average sports lovers. While the average sports fan can name at least 10 players from their favourite European clubs, the same cannot be said for local sports teams and this has been due to a myriad of factors mainly bad “packaging”, lack of relatable content, security challenges, and most importantly, lack of vision of the numerous business and investment opportunities that abound in sports.

This article highlights 3 problems and corresponding solutions that could make Nigerian sports content share same, if not more space in the hearts of the teeming sports fans that are all over the country.

Profit should be the end goal

Nigerian sports admins don’t see sports as a viable profit-making venture and this is simply inexplicable. Sports, all over the world is a teeming business that churns out profit when done right. The 2018-19 UEFA Champions League had a staggering revenue of €2.82 billion, with most of them from TV rights, sponsorship, matchday revenue and merchandising.

This begs a question as to why it is not a commercial activity in this side of the world, and this is simply due to two things: the lack of business-minded people at the helm of affairs and the interference of government in the day-to-day running of the sport.

Government should only create the right environment for sports, and the private sector should lead the drive. However, the major onus lies with the league body itself. Create the right product and see companies flock around you for sponsorships. Issues such as security, officiating, and hooliganism seriously need to be addressed. Fixing these alongside having a great product will bring the fans, and ultimately the profit.

Sports must not be a political agenda

Football, and in general, sports, has always been an avenue for state pride and regional superiority, but this should not be the main thing. The world is moving past this and we must also be adaptive to learning new things. While Nigeria practised a regional system of government, sports teams were used as a beacon and rays of hope of the good things that came from the region.

There was healthy competition, and while this was not entirely bad, it helped foster a sense of desperation that has taken new and dangerous turn in recent years. Sport has gone past this era; which means that sports should be seen as it is: just sports and not a tool to score cheap popularity with citizens or even as a form of empowering people. Sport is a business and must be treated as such.

Innovation must be continuous

The reason why the average sports fan loves foreign content is because of the endless innovations on offer. Sports is not static and should not be so in these shores. Advancement in technology must be adapted across board in terms of fitness, sport science, nutrition, training methods, coaching, and officiating. Innovation must be continuous, which is why the English Premier League continues to be number 1.

The Nigerian Professional Football League currently has a partnership with Redstrike Media to showcase selected games, which fans can access by paying a nominal monthly subscription fee. These sort of ideas will help a teeming youthful population rack up interest in the league, which can only be a win-win.


The opportunities in sports business in Nigeria are endless and cannot be wished away or swept under the table. Sport is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it’s only high time we tapped into that space. There is the market, the resources and the talent. We only need to get our acts right to earn the rewards.

(Email:, Twitter: @AdemolaKadiri)

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