Former chairman of Heartland, Goodfaith Etuemena, has told the hierarchy of the four-time Nigerian Champions to stop their blackmail against him over missing money and face the task of steering the club to higher heights, Completesports.com reports.
Etuemena, who is called ‘Digital Chairman’ was responding to allegations of infraction during his tenure.
Heartland Media Director, Solomon Onu had on Tuesday issued a statement accusing his erstwhile boss of not handing over to his successor.
The club equally asked the former chairman to account for an alleged missing €15, 000 in the club’s domiciliary account. The Owerri side’s management also accused him of withholding documents and proceeds from the club’s partnership and sponsorship deals with Dana Airline, Boluspor FC, Turkey and proceeds from the international sales of the duo of Francis Momoh (Grasshoppers, Switzerland) and Francis Eze.
But Etuemena denied any wrongdoing, dismiasing the allegations as fabricated cheap blackmail – that he did no wrong while his tenure lasted.
He picked the allegations one after the other as he presented what he called ‘verifiable facts’ to put records straight.
He wondees how a responsible club management could issue a statement raising such allegation on a piece of paper without the club’s letter-headed papers.
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“Worse still is the fact that such press release was not signed,” Etuemena fired back in a statement which he personally signed and made available to Completesports.com.
“Ordinarily, I would have ignored it as a trash by some desperate and disorganised persons, but for the sake of many reasonable Imolites, Nigerians and other well-meaning individuals who could mistake these spurious allegations against me for a fact,” he said.
“I wish to state categorically that there was no iota of truth contained in the said press release.
“Kindly recall that I was removed as Chairman of Heartland FC in June, 2019 following a general directive by the then Governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, which requested that all heads of parastatals and agencies should immediately hand over to the most senior civil servants in their establishment. I fully complied with this directive.
“I later honoured an invitation by the (Heartland) board members including the chairman, the then general manager, club’s lawyer and other management staff members at Protea Hotel, Owerri where I explained to them all that they wanted to know from me,” he said, adding that, “since then, none of them has contacted me if they were in doubt of anything.
“They all have my contact and know how to reach me. It is therefore surprising that after one full year that I had handed over, somebody just woke up now to say that I did not hand over properly.”
He continued: “All the documents they said they are now looking for, were handed over to them.
“Otherwise, how did they manage to register and deregister players or how did they manage to take control of the club’s bank accounts?
“We all know that a club cannot deregister or register new players on the TMS without the contract papers so how did they get the contract papers.
“If I did not hand over, how did they get the TMS code with which they gained access to Heartland FC TMS portal”?
The former boss of the Naze Millionaires also cleared the air on the partnership deals he brokered with Dana Airline and Boluspir FC of Turkey, saying it did not translate to physical cash.
“They were products and services given to Heartland FC. Everybody saw the LIG and JordanRed jerseys we wore and the Dana Flights we flew.
“They saw when we went on a two-week training tour to Turkey and came back without a single player or official defecting, among other things..
“The partnership contracts were a yearly thing and most of them were expiring by the time we finished the season in 2019.
“All they needed to do was to go for new contract but they didn’t. The partnership with Boluspor of Turkey was in 2017 when we were still playing in the Nigeria National League and which had expired since.
“My interest is on how to move the club forward and I won’t like to join them in discouraging future potential partners and sponsors of the club.
“Thank God, all these contracts they are talking about today, were attracted by me and not that I inherited them from the previous management.
“Within a short period, we were able to boost the image of Heartland FC which made companies both home and abroad to have interest in Heartland FC”.
On the players he allegedly sold, Etuemena said: “The so called players they accused me of selling, I have told them, Nigeria Football Federation has fully implemented online transfer of players even before I became Heartland chairman.
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“You have the TMS password with you, if you think I sold any player, check the TMS and you will find details of every player that was transferred by Heartland FC since the time of Chief Ignatius Okeahialam to the present day.
“They also mentioned the players that were seconded to Brilla FC, Enugu during my time. These were mostly players from the feeder team whom we didn’t want to lose when they could not gain spaces in the main team.
“We brought a foreign coach, Cabanas Recado, a Swiss, to give them extra training and later seconded them to Brilla FC for further training because the foreign coach had moved to Brilla FC.
“Later, the players wanted to play in the league in order to be active instead of doing only training. So, we released them on free loan to Brilla FC, in order for them to play in the NNL only for one season for Brilla FC after which they were to return to Heartland FC to complete their contracts or to renew them.
“Initially, we cut down their salaries to N20, 000.00 because Brilla FC was giving them something (allowances) too, but when they were registered to play in the league for Brilla FC, we felt that Brilla FC should be fully responsible for their salaries. That is professional practice.”
He made it clear that striker Francis Momoh was never a bona-fide player of HEARTLAND.
“Heartland FC never owned Francis Momoh. In fact, from day one, his agent or manager who brought him to Heartland refused to sell him to us but at the same time, our coaches wanted the boy.
“Therefore, we took him on free loan and the same agent later withdrew him long before he went abroad. In fact, Momoh played for another team in Nigeria before he traveled abroad, so, Heartland FC did not own or sell him.
“The same thing is applicable to Eze Francis who was also not owned by Heartland. Eze Francis only spent about two months in Heartland as his agent bluntly refused to sell him to us because, according to him, the boy already had a deal abroad.
“The difference here is that Heartland was the last club Eze played and as a result, Heartland would be entitled to some money any time he signs a professional contract. Right now, he is still playing on loan with a non professional club in Turkey.
“As I said earlier, they can go to the TMS and find out all the facts they need to know about all the players they are talking about, the ones that came in and the ones that left and the terms of their contracts.
“I am not aware of any €15,000.00 that was in Heartland domiciliary account, nor do I even know the domiciliary account they are talking about.
“On the club’s letter-headed papers, the official e-mail address and the website address were clearly indicated. This official e-mail address, [email protected] was not opened by me, rather, it was opened by previous management and I inherited it.
“This e-mail was what we used and by the time I was leaving, I handed over the password to the new management the same way I handed over the TMS password.
“In the letter-headed papers the present management is operating, the same email address is also indicated which shows that it is what they are using.
“The website has a domain package whereby any staff of the organization could create his personal email that is attached to the website name. Eg. [email protected]
“For instance, there is no way the League Management Company (LMC) we have today will not write a warning letter to Heartland FC at least, two to three times through [email protected] before banning them”.