Heaven may be obliged to help those who help themselves, but a farmer who irrigates his farm needs little rain, no?
By: Sammie Frimpong
It’s hard not to feel for Ghana’s 16 Premier League clubs. Eighteen games into the ongoing top-flight campaign, the league, for reasons which could be anyone’s guess, is without a sponsor. The result, needless to say, is a situation that’s almost brought some of these clubs to their knees — and one that may have forced a couple to reconsider their top-flight statuses.
Case in point: Techiman City.
The Real Citizens, in their very first season in the Premier League, haven’t exactly written a fairytale. Home impregnability — they haven’t lost even once at their Nana Ameyaw Park fortress — has salvaged their story thus far, without which they’d probably be battling relegation given their woeful statistics on the road. Off the pitch, though, City’s chief, the formidable Charles Kwadwo Ntim, claims things are actually poorer than their spot at 10th on the table.
“For Techiman City, we will only continue the league if sponsors come on board because the Ghana FA president promised the clubs that he is bringing sponsors before the second round would start but nothing happened,” Ntim recently told Kumasi-based Nhyira FM. “I have not officially written to the FA about my decision but I will do and still stand by my words.”
Yes, it’s the same club which publicised a ‘mega’ $50,000 deal with Samara Company Limited (manufacturers and distributors of the SASSO range of products) ahead of the 2016 league season [in which the merit of their participation is still debated, by the way] — yet, no, that sum ain’t ‘mega’, considering reigning champions Ashantigold usually spread that much on daily administration over just two months.
Anyway, City’s threat of a boycott, as is to be expected, hasn’t been swallowed too smoothly by the powers-that-be. Ghana Football Association spokesman, Ibrahim Saanie Daara, was tough in his response, suggesting that the aggrieved party could ‘happily pull out’ if they so wished. It’s a reaction that’s earned him less love than he’s ever enjoyed from the public, and it’s perhaps advised by such sour reception that Daara’s boss at the FA, President Kwesi Nyantakyi, responded as he did.
Though treading a more diplomatic path than Daara chose, Nyantakyi didn’t fail to land a punch squarely in the face of the murmuring clubs, tying it in with the very problem that’s got the latter’s blood boiling.
“The consistent claim of pulling out of the league is one of the major reasons why we’ve not been able to sign on new sponsors,” Nyantakyi told Kessben FM, also in Kumasi, earlier this week.
Elaborating some more, Nyantakyi added: “League sponsorship is meant to support clubs and cushion their efforts. The clubs must not solely rely on that for their day-to-day management.”
Nyantakyi’s comments, though not likely to sound like music to everyone, ring true in objective ears. Funding a top-flight club involves a lot of cash — at least in the sense of input. It’s the sort of business any would be foolish to depend solely primarily on the football authorities to finance, but that’s just the trap most of our Premier League sides — many of them financially emaciated — find themselves in.
Heard clubs like Asante Kotoko, Hearts of Oak and Ashgold mourn the league’s lack of sponsorship overly?
Well, that’s simply because these bigger clubs enjoy alternative sources of funding, through fairly solid sponsorship revenue which keeps them going. Most of the remainder aren’t so fortunate, though largely through their own fault, as Nyantakyi is quick to point out.
“Clubs must work harder to move towards developing themselves while they wait for the support of the FA,” the lawyer-turned-administrator stated.
It’s the field — the very crucial field — where they have failed. When clubs openly admit to indulging the black arts in attempting to win games, instances of alleged match-fixing become too glaring to be dismissed as mere speculation, and everything else seems to be done wrong, it’s hard for reputable businesses to inject money into individual Ghanaian clubs. And while the league may not be at the finest it’s ever been, but its state is no worse than the collective misery of the clubs which comprise it. Perhaps, as Nyantakyi implies, we’d all be better for it when the clubs work towards positioning themselves in good stead to attract deals of their own. That way, they line their coffers, and the league’s allure — that magic wand with which sponsorship is to be drawn — wouldn’t be so dimmed.