With the 2021/22 Ghana Premier League (GPL) in the homestretch and galloping to the finish line, club owners and administrators will be checking their bank balance as they make a cost-benefit analysis of fully participating in this season’s competition.
Ahead of the season, Ghana Football Association (GFA) President, Kurt E.S. Okraku, announced that the winner of the Premier League would take home GH¢250,000, while the runner-up would pocket GH¢150,000 with GH¢80,000 for the third-placed team. He announced also that each of the Premier League clubs would receive a total of 40 Tempo footballs, 30 training balls and 10 match balls.
Apart from the StarTimes broadcast sponsorship package of $850,000 for the 18 participating clubs, the Marketing Department of the GFA is yet to introduce any lucrative sponsorship package that will further cushion the clubs to be more competitive in the competition.
If the FA had distributed evenly the StarTimes sponsorship money of $850,000.00 to the 18 participating teams, each would have had an estimated amount of $42,222 to cushion them to participate fully in the league.
However, considering the administrative cost of running the FA, the football governing body might have taken a share from the sponsorship package, indicating that the 18 clubs might have been given far less than the $42,222.
The beginning of the season also had its challenges in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, which denied home teams opportunity to fill their home venues with their fans to enable them to maximise revenue generation to support their operations.
With such restrictions on public gathering which restricted attendance at matches, participating clubs were the biggest losers.
Even though the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted midway into the league, the initial damage continued to have debilitating effect on attendance, such that only a handful of fans always paid to watch matches.
One issue that was glare during the league was that matches involving Asante Kotoko at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi, Hearts of Oak in Accra, Medeama SC at the Akoon Park at Tarkwa, Berekum Chelsea at the Golden City Park, as well as Aduana Stars at the Nana Agyemang Badu Park at Dormaa-Ahenkro, among others, had not been fully patronised by their traditional supporters. Their stadia were previously filled with supporters during top fixtures but were hardly filled this time to generate the requisite revenues to run their clubs more effectively.
For clubs such as King Faisal Babies, Accra Lions, Elmina Sharks, Techiman Eleven Wonders and Accra Great Olympics, among others, with relatively fewer followers, attendance at their matches were nothing to write home about except when they played traditional giants, Kotoko and Hearts.
During their matches, fans were sparsely dotted at the stands ,such that one could easily count the number of fans during their matches
The result was that monies that supporters would have contributed to support their teams to generate revenue to offset recurrent cost of running teams, such as payment of salaries for players, technical handlers and other administrative cost remained in the pocket of the football fans. Monies to cater for the medical care of the playing body, team officials and the management team was also lacking.
The cost of fuel and maintenance of team vehicles for transporting players and officials to and from league centres also became a huge burden to the club owners.
The predicament of Real Tamale United -- a team that enjoy much support in Tamale and its environs -- readily comes to mind in relation to fuel cost and hotel bills when playing as guest to other participating teams
Prior to their match against Elmina Sharks at Elmina a few weeks ago, the technical team had to go public to solicit for financial support before they were able to honour the match. So far, the public is yet to be informed about concrete efforts being made by the Marketing Department of the FA to go the extra mile in securing lucrative sponsorship packages for the league to support teams struggling to cope with their high operating costs.
Coupled with the individual clubs’ inability to secure sponsorship deals, it has now become more expensive to participate in the elite division.
For now, it is open secret that some of the clubs are not only struggling to pay the monthly salaries of their players but are also running away from the winning bonuses to motivate them to be more competitive.
It is for this reason that half-baked players regularly abandon the league midway for foreign leagues with a view to building better careers to raise their standard of living.
The mass migration of our talented footballers will, therefore, continue to have adverse effect on the attraction of the GPL, thus reducing attendance at the stadia and revenue generation for participating clubs.
Even at a time Ghana football was considered as amateurish, clubs that competed in Africa excelled and won continental glories for the country.
It is, therefore, ironic that at a time the FA claims to be organising a professional league, the performance of Ghana's representatives in continental competitions have been abysmal.
So long as the FA fails to secure lucrative sponsorship packages to increase revenues of participating clubs, the fortunes of the elite clubs will continue to dwindle. As a result, the league will continue to produce teams that will not be very competitive at the continental level but will compete only to add to the number of participating teams while migration of the best players remaining in the league -- including those in the lower divisions -- for better conditions of service overseas will continue unabated.