For the umpteenth time, allow me to reiterate the fact that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that the English Premier League (EPL) we see today which has a global appeal to the ‘heavens’ did not start this way.
It took visionary men and women with many years of hard work to transform it from what it used to be to what it has become today. So far, I think that the Ghana Football Association (GFA) deserves commendation for the near perfect organisation of this year’s leagues :
To tell you the truth, the Premier league and the Division One league have made some gains this season. Both leagues have been very competitive and in the process generated interest among football fans in the country.
Let’s cast our minds back to the Tema Youth versus Accra Lions match at the Tema Sports Stadium and the interest it generated among football fans across the length and breadth of this country, likewise the Accra Great Olympics Versus Accra Hearts of Oak game at the Accra Sports Stadium and many more of such high profile games throughout the season which have brought entertainment to football fans across the country. For the first time in so many years, we have seen football fans troop to pubs to watch local football league matches (GPL) as they would do for EPL matches and many individuals have had to sign up to star times decoders because of the Ghana Premier league.This interest in the local league has also ensured that since the partial return of football fans into our various stadia, we have had a good number of fans turned up at match venues on match days even in the presence of COVID-19 which is supposed to ensure that there is this phobia for gathering among humans .
I wholeheartedly commend the Ghana Football Association (GFA) for the shift it has put in, just to get us here. I can only encourage them to continue on same tangent and i bet you, in the not too distant future, when the covid-19 protocols in place are no more, our match venues shall always be filled to capacity, which is what the industry needs to be able to succeed.
The obvious upgrade of the league notwithstanding, i still have this legitimate worry which must be of great concern to all of us as industry players and any meaningful Ghanaian whose desire is to see football succeed in our part of the world .
The GFA can only do its bit. We as clubs too, have our part to play if the success of the industry is to be attained in full. In this piece, i will duel on the competitiveness of our league matches and its impact on the whole league as we approach the tail end of the league season.:
Every where you came across football fans in this country discussing the relegation battle of our leagues which has just 5 matches to go in the case of the Premier league and 6, in the case of the Division One league, the argument as to which team they think, would be relegated at the end of the season is not based on the strength of the teams involved in the relegation battle but rather, which ones among them, have more cronies among the administrators of the clubs in the leagues and therefore more likely to get games fixed for them so they can quickly accumulate points and climb out of the relegation ‘web’. That in my opinion and in the opinion of anyone who means well for the industry in Ghana should not be the case.
Clubs must be made to fight competitively for every point and any point they accumulate throughout the entire season. The competitive nature of these games is what attracts the fans to the various match venues on match days, as clarified by a fan of Tudu Mighty Jets Fc in a conversation myself and him were recently engaged in :
Inmediately after Tudu Mighty Jets Fc had won convincingly against Kotoku Royals last Saturday, on the 12th of June 2021, he called to congratulate me on that vintage performance and subsequently, the win. He continued by enquiring who our next opponent was and i told him Danbort Fc . His response was, ‘wow, are you guys going to play them competitively?’ My answer to that question which came in the form of a question to him was, ‘why this question’? . He said he knew about the relationship between the two clubs and was very much aware of the fact that the owner of Danbort Fc used to support Tudu Mighty Jets Fc while it was in the Premier league and was aware of how strong the relationship is even till today. He thought that such a relationship between us and Danbort would put us in a difficult situation to want to play and win against Danbort when their status as a Division One club was under such threat. He told me to confide in him if as a club, we had any intention of playing a match of convenience with Danbort Fc so he does not waste his time, come over to the venue only to come watch a game with a predictable outcome.
This is someone who knew about our relationship with this club which is fighting to survive a relegation battle, even him is not in any mood to come watch a match of convenience between the two clubs, how much more the neutrals who are only attracted to competitive games ?
This is one big hurdle we need to cross if indeed we want to win the fan interest across the length and breath of this country and even beyond, which is what is needed to ensure that football is successful in our part of the world.
It is the keen competition which will yield the fan interest and not the relationship between the clubs. It is these increase in numbers of spectators which will improve our chances of sponsorship acquisition and not the relationship between the clubs. Quality competition among the clubs would lead to the growth in fan interest which can even go beyond the borders of this country and that would mean an increase in the value of the broadcasting right. So it a win win situation for clubs when the competition levels of our leagues are very high.
Let us all as club administrators collectively fight to ensure that the game succeeds. The first step though, is to make it highly competitive, which is what attracts the prospective fan. Once we do that and clubs become aware that it is only quality in depth and not relationship with sister club’s administrators which would guarantee their continues stay in the leagues, all clubs would be serious during pre season, make sure they recruit the right crop of players and sign good coaches so they improve their squads as well as the team’s play and ultimately become more competitive.
That way, our leagues can attract the prospective fan and in the process make the leagues strong and popular enough, to begin to attract sponsorship again.
That’s the only way to achieve success and so, as we try our hardest to get the referees to be fair and firm during games, let us on our own as club administrators, stay away from fixing games among ourselves because we want our friends to continue to play in the league even if, quality wise, they do not have what it takes to stay in the league.
The time is now : Lets help ignite the passion in the ghanaian football fan and in the process create wealth for all in the industry to share, as we strive to attain a successful industry in our part of the world.
Source: Daniel Larbi, CEO Tudu Mighty Jet #letusbringbackthelove.