AFCON 2017: Viewing center operators lament low patronage

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Operators of viewing centres have decried the low patronage that has characterised their business since the commencement of the Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Gabon on Jan. 14.

Some of the operators, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Benin, attributed the low patronage to the absence of the country’s national team, Super Eagles.

They also said that the prevalent economy situation had not helped matters, noting that many who patronised the centres could no longer afford the new rates.

They lamented that the low patronage had affected them economically as they depended on seasons like this to take care of some financial matters.

Andrew Isibor, regretted that the country was not only the loser with the absence of the national team at AFCON but that operators of viewing centres had been the biggest losers.

According to him, they are the biggest losers because their families depend on the proceeds from these centres.

“It is particularly more painful that at a time like this, when things have become so difficult in the country, we (operators) are not able to take advantage of the ongoing AFCON.

“Yes, it is not our fault, if the country had qualified, the story would have been different but the fact is that the viewing centers have lost out.’’

Osahon Ogieva, said he had to close most times the AFCON matches are on air because of the low patronage.

“How do I burn fuel only to have empty seats watching matches? It doesn’t pay, so, I had to close when AFCON matches are on,’’ he said.

Similarly, Mike Uwe, said if not for the ongoing European League matches, especially the English Premier League, he would have had a difficult story to tell.

“Seriously, I don’t know what would have happened if one had relied on this present Nations Cup to make some money.

“It is a complete disaster. I can tell you I’m not the only one finding things difficult, I have interacted with some of my colleagues and their story is not any different from what I’m telling you.

“You see, aside the issue of Super Eagles not qualifying for the tournament, some of our patrons have condemned the rate we charge now.

“You may say N100 is small, but then in this current economic reality, N100 is something.

“It is also not our fault that we increased the price per match from N50 to N100; it is all as a result of the economic challenges.

“We don’t rely on BEDC to run our businesses as it is never there, we rely solely on generator. I’m sure you will appreciate how much a generator or even its parts cost now, not even fuel or diesel,’’ he said.

NAN reports that the ongoing AFCON will end on Sunday. (NAN)