Let’s save the Ghana Premier League

Published on: 02 December 2016

When the organisers of the top-flight Ghana Premier League announced December 18 as the dateline for the kick-off to the new season, we took it with a pinch of salt.

We knew èthe date was nothing more than tentative and that sooner than later that dateline would be thrown overboard by litigious circumstances prevailing in the corridors of Ghana football.

Chief among these was the pending case between Dreams FC and Tema Youth following the directive by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) that the matter of who qualified for Premier League last season be looked at again by the Appeals Committee of the FA.

And, without doubt, the committee’s ruling last Wednesday in favour of Tema Youth, which overturned the earlier verdict that made Dreams FC participants in the 2016 premiership, must be satisfying to most purists.

By the ruling, Tema Youth are mandated to replace Dreams in the 2016/17 Premier League, and that is a blow that must be devastating to the aspirations of Dreams FC for them to begin to initiate fresh moves (legal or otherwise) to stay in the competition.

Potentially, therefore, our league does not look like starting any time soon, which must be a worrying signal to all stakeholders to wake up.

This is why some technocrats of the game have, in the last three weeks, bandied the idea of an expanded league format to accommodate 18 or 20 clubs, instead of the current 16.

But, as we have pointed out in this column several times, the attempt at an expansion could potentially lead to a chaotic competition, against the backdrop that even with the 16-league format, the competition often drags and is unable to start or end as scheduled.

Aside from that, most of the clubs have often been financially overstretched to the extent that in the last season some nearly truncated their participation midway because their coffers were dried up and they hardly could fund their activities or even pay their players.

Indeed, last season was a very peculiar situation, as the league was also bereft of a headline sponsor with the unceremonious withdrawal the season before of the Capital Plus Bank.

However, as we were recently made aware of, the new season had already been signed up by a Chinese company, StarTimes, with a lucrative media sponsorship of about $17.950 million, even though the period of 10 years that it will last beats our comprehension.

We have learnt from grapevine sources that even the StarTimes sponsorship was brokered, courtesy the owners of Dreams FC, and, therefore, we think all football-loving Ghanaians must be grateful to them for their exemplary role.

As agents, they must have pocketed their percentage of the deal and will continue to collect it for the 10 long years that the sponsorship is scheduled to last.

But it must be painful and, perhaps, ironic that Dreams FC are faced with the prospect of not participating in the premiership after all the efforts by the owners to secure sponsorship for the competition.

We empathise with the management of Dreams. This may be one of the reasons for the calls by some of the clubs and other stakeholders that next season’s premiership be expanded.

We can’t think far!

SOURCE: Graphic Sports editorial