Following the transfer ban from the League Management Company LMC and ordering of payment of outstanding wages to Okereke Maduabuchi and Fatuwanse Alfred Olusegun, Heartland FC has denied knowing the players involved.
In a statement released on Monday morning by the club management, Heartland said:
‘Heartland FC observes with total shock and dismay, a publication by the LMC whose contents connotes a ban on the club for breach of contracts for two players namely Maduabuchi Okereke and Fatunwase Alfred Olusegun on cumulative claims of over 16 million Naira. Heartland management wishes to categorically state the following:
1. Heartland was not informed about this matter thus they were not given a fair hearing. The secretariat of the club has in time past had cause to exchange correspondence with the LMC, the LA LIGA conference being the most recent of such. Heartland would not have received such a serious mail and kept mute about it. Especially as it concerns the very prestigious image of the club who prides itself in due diligence to laid down processes.
2. The players in question according to the write up were contracted in 2018, that was before this management emerged in 2019. They are unknown to the current management led by Chief Barr. Charles Ezekwem.One would expect that since the government is continuum the aforementioned players through their representatives would have approached the current management with their facts, before embarking on a calculated journey to embarrass, malign and cause reputational damage to our great Club. HEARTLAND’S secretariate has dossiers of all contracts of players currently being on her employ not forgetting those who left the club through mutual agreements. There was no way the management would have heard about the case of the two Messrs without at least making an inquest into the remote cause of the problem.
3. Heartland is yet to receive the mail with the sanctions as at close of work yesterday 20th February 2020. The club only got to learn about the sanctions from social media that were awash with the story. Let us categorically state the Heartland neither got the purported letter of 28th January, nor the complaint of the complainants or the so-called BAN of the club which was trending on the social media yesterday. We, therefore, urge the IT department of the LMC to investigate how these emails failed to get to Heartland FC.
4. Heartland FC has always complied with every LMC directive since inception. So it begs the question as to why follow up letters weren’t sent and efforts weren’t made to formally copy the chairman or General Manager just to be sure that the correspondence got to its desired destination with the view getting a response from the club.
It is certain that this is a deliberate attempt by our naysayers and detractors to distract the club from her focus and goals this season. One such is a dubious agent whose players are no longer on the books of the club, he had previously plundered the club in connivance with the previous management hence such a cowardly act to get back at Heartland. We appeal to our fans to be calm as the present management is focused and committed to uplifting the fortunes and image of our club.
Conclusively, we shall depend on the well thought professional legal representatives for sound decisions concerning this matter. It is our hope that the club is given a fair hearing.’
It should be recalled that Heartland FC was banned from signing new players for the next two registration periods and until they comply with a ruling by the League Management Company (LMC) in separate complaints of unlawful termination of contract and indebtedness filed by two former players of the club, Maduabuchi Okereke and Fatuwanse Alfred Olusegun.
Maduabuchi and Fatuwase had in separate petitions to the LMC dated November 5, 2019, bordering on claims of overdue payables, wrongful termination of contract and compensation. While Maduabuchi laid claims for a total of N10.400, 000, Fatuwase asked for a total of N6, 250,000.
In its ruling communicated to Heartland FC on February 17, 2020, the LMC noted that the club failed to respond to the claims of the players despite having been invited by the LMC to state its case through a letter dated January 28, 2020.
The LMC said the players and the club did execute separate employment contracts (in the form of the NPFL Standard Player Contract), the duration of which was 10th November 2018 to 9th November 2021.
The LMC rejected a letter of clearance purportedly issued the players by Heartland FC on August 28, 2019, and which was simply addressed “to whom it may concern”. It further noted that the clearance letter purported that, it was issued at the request of the players following which they were released with no further financial obligations from the club towards them.
In rejecting the clearance letter issued the players, the LMC stated that a “contract or agreement must be signed or executed by each party to the said agreement. The fact that the clearance letter was signed only by the Club through its General Manager indicates that it cannot be deemed to be an agreement that binds the Player”.
It further found that the players send a separate default notice to the club on 30th September 2019, giving a deadline of 14 days for payment of the claims.
The LMC ruled that the improper release or clearance letter issued by the Club strengthened the Players’ claims of wrongful termination; and noted that “as a result of the failure of the Club to respond to the allegations, we are constrained to determine the case on the strength of the available evidence”.
Heartland was ordered to pay Maduabuchi the sums of N7, 200,000 representing the remaining two years of his three-year contract and another N900, 000 unpaid arrears of three months consolidated salary stipulated in the contract before it was wrongfully terminated by the club.
Fatuwanse was awarded N4, 800, 000 representing the remaining two years of his three-year contract and another N600, 000 unpaid arrears of three months consolidated salary as stipulated in the contract before it was wrongfully terminated by the club.
The ruling sent to Heartland and the petitioners further stated thus, “consequently, pursuant to Rule B9.45.4, the Club is banned from registering any new players in the next two entire and consecutive registration periods, provided that the ban will be lifted immediately upon confirmation that the payables overdue towards the Player are paid.
“If at the end of the period of the ban, the sums mentioned in 19a and 19b above are not paid, the matter shall be duly reviewed.”