Hearts boss demands more investment in domestic football

Author: Maurice Quansah
Mark Noonan (right) was recruited from USA by Togbe Afede XIV, Board Chairman of Hearts and one of the major investors in Ghana football

The Managing Director of Accra Hearts of Oak, Mark Noonan, has expressed his sadness and frustration at the current stake of Ghana football and made a passionate appeal to Ghanaians to rescue the game, which he says is “on life support” and needs urgent attention and decisive action.

The American, who took over the Hearts top job in February, says the current malaise facing the game goes beyond the recent expose on corruption which has halted organised football, as well as the activities of the Ghana Football Association and its officials. Instead, he traces the problems facing the sport to the overriding interest in foreign football which has denied the local game of the needed attention and investment.

In a an article published on his Twitter page on Tuesday, captioned “Ghana Football First”, he questioned the general structure and business model of Ghanaian clubs, who rely heavily on proceeds from exporting their best talents to foreign clubs, many sold cheaply and in some cases offloaded to very poor environments, a practice that eventually denies clubs of star quality to attract spectators to matches.

“Why is developing players for export the only semi-sustainable business model for local clubs?

“Why is every professional desperate to go outside long before they are ready, even if that means plying their trade in places where they are miserable?” Noonan asked.

In what the Hearts boss considered a call to action, he asked for a refocus on Ghana football through investment into critical areas of the local game to project it positively and thereby result in a shift in attention away from foreign football, which he believes has adversely affected the development of the domestic game.

 In a league where clubs earn little money from corporate sponsorship or from the gates receipts during matches, Noonan envisages that Ghana football would still need some amount of foreign investment and the league would remain a “selling league” for the foreseeable future. However, he notes that the local game can best be rescued if such monies accruing from the transfer of players abroad are ploughed back into developing Ghana football.

In recent months Noonan has supervised the transfer of key Hearts players such as Winful Cobbinah and Cosmos Dauda to overseas clubs.

“We need foreign investment in our game. For the foreseeable future we will be a selling league as arte most leagues and clubs around the world. There is no shame in that as long as we sell at the right time, get fair value in return, and reinvest the proceeds back in to the further development of football in Ghana,” the Hearts chief writes.

Noonan called for the start of a grassroots movement among true believers of the game for Ghanaians to pay more attention to, and invest more, in the local game.