14
Oct
09

Why would anyone care about the Glo Premier League?


Mr. Welbeck Abrah Appiah - PLB Boss

Mr. Welbeck Abrah Appiah - PLB Boss

The pump and pageantry expected to herald this seasons $ 3 million Glo Premier League which will commence on Sunday 18th October may not come after all. The Premier League Board (PLB) has cancelled their scheduled launching of the Glo Premier League citing their inability to get hold of  busy football officials to attend the function as their reason. 

Apart from hitches in the launching of the league, it appears there are some issues with the commencement of league itself. Pressmen I have spoken to seem to have no idea how to obtain accreditation to cover league games. Ardent soccer fans have complained of the missing excitement a few days to the season and club officials have hinted  that even though they are ready to kick off, they have not received their share of the $3 million Glo sponsorship package. Meanwhile, to date, the FA website has no data on squad lists neither does the football-loving public have as much information about the up-coming season as would have been expected. One begins to wonder if Ghana is serious about its football. 

These bottlenecks notwithstanding, the season is ready for kickoff on Sunday October 18 2009. Ahead of the season, I talked to some football lovers and asked them about their expectations for the season. Some of my respondents made comments which suggested they don’t care much about the coming season. Below, I present summaries of seven of the common reasons why people told me they couldn’t be bothered about the Glo Premier League.  

[1]  The Hearts of Oak-Kotoko ‘duogarchy’!

Ghana’s premier division soccer has been more or less a closed shop. This year Kotoko wins it,  the following year it would be Hearts of Oak. Since 1957, only 6 other clubs have managed to win the league.  Goldfields (3 times) 2 Great Olympics (2 times). Eleven Wise, Hasaacas, Mysterious Dwarfs, Real Republicans have all won it once . This ‘duogarchy’ has gradually killed peoples interest in the game. Why would anyone waste his time to follow an uncompetitive season where only two clubs have the chance to win the title? People are hoping this season will bring a fresh face to the hall of champions. 

[2] Bribery galore!

Season in and season out, the beauty of the Glo Premier League is marred by scandalous bribery allegations of club officials bribing referees as well as opposing players. Followers of the league are lucky if the GFA concerns itself with probes. In many cases even in the presence of overwhelming evidence, these bribery cases are just pushed under the carpet. Year after year the question keeps popping up – do we have worthy champions? 

[3] See you in court!

Football lovers are looking for the first season which will end without any court litigation. They are still waiting for one season when the final league table will not be decided by the dexterity of self-styled legal brains, but by the performance of clubs. Hopefully this might be the season. 

[4] What is there to watch?

In the not too distant past, there was a reason to be a stadium bird. There were quality players people would sacrifice everything to watch and to celebrate. These days the opposite is the case. Fans who troop to the various stadia find entertainment value in heaping loads of insults on players who add no value to their teams. Will this season come with the quality fans crave so much for? Are we going to have a goal king who can score at least 25 goals? Are we going to have that one player whose exclusion for the Black Stars squad for ANC Angola 2010 will lead to instant public upheaval? 

[5] Constant Crowd Confusion

True soccer lovers are expecting a violence-free season. This may be too much to ask if referees continue to produce terrible calls; if radio commentators with no knowledge about the rules of the game continue to mislead the public about referee performances and if fans refuse to learn some decorum. However, the best results will be achieved if the FA is perceived as serious and willing to ensure a fair competition. 

[6] Manchester United has a game on TV

An offshoot of the quality argument is the fact that it is sometimes cheaper to watch top-notch European Leagues than some of the Glo Premier League games. For many soccer-loving Ghanaians, in the absence of quality players, they would rather spend their time watching Michael Essien’s Chelsea take on John Paintsil’s Fullham or John Mensah’s Sunderland. They would rather watch Sulley Muntari’s Internacionale lock horns with Kwadwo Asamoah’s Udinese or Asamoah Gyan’s Stade Rene do battle with Moses Narh’s Auxerre. 

[7] The pull factor

Given such low patronage of domestic games, one would have thought that business-minded clubs would take steps to whip-up support in order to multiply proceeds from match attendance, sale of paraphernalia etc. It seems however that club officials cannot be bothered. Beyond selling their low-quality players to mediocre European leagues for pittance, most clubs don’t seem to be interested in any other football related activity. The PLB is guilty here also. After several years of paying attention to domestic soccer, I am yet to find the PLB consciously designing and executing any marketing strategy to raise the profile of the league.

 In my honest opinion it is time to rethink the way we run Ghana’s football. There is so much room for improvement. The other day I heard the PLB officials had travelled to South Africa to understudy their Southern African friends. Hopefully some of the lessons learnt will be inculcated into the management of the league. It is time to end the business-as-usual and to have the best season we ever had. This cannot be too much to ask!

 Let the games begin and may we crown worthy champions!

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