Sports Features of Friday, 2 September 2011
Source: Mensah, Opanin Kwabena
Following calls for the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to stage some of the national team’s friendly matches in the country in the wake of the cancelled friendly match against Nigeria in London due to security concerns, the president of GFA, Kwasi Nyantakyi (Kwasi), is reported to have said his outfit needed about $1 million [€694,092] to successfully stage friendly matches for the Black Stars in the country (Ghanaweb Soccer News of Saturday, 27 August 2011).
Kwasi’s dull excuse is an apology of a Ghanaian Chief Executive Officer who lacks ingenuity and imaginative skills needed to undertake actions that yield positive results. One is always worried when the proverbial lack of money syndrome is used as a saving grace to cover short-sightedness and inefficiency or shirk responsibility. GFA President is one of the most important positions in Ghana that can be made more exciting and financially rewarding if Kwasi knows what he has and what to do with it. Incidentally, he has confined himself to the level of an administrative officer receiving and forwarding (pushing papers) government and FIFA subventions and donations as if that is all he has to do.
Consequently, Kwasi has been organizing friendly matches for the national team in foreign countries collecting paltry $150,000 per match, disbursing same among players, officials and spend the rest on administrative cost. He seems to be satisfied with the stipend that he gets from organizing such games when he can on the other hand turn GFA into a multi-million dollar business concern that adequately rewards its employees financially, generates millions of dollars/cedis into the Ghanaian economy and put smiles on the faces of Ghanaians by organizing friendly matches for the Black Stars in the country.
Giving the resources at his disposal, Kwasi should not have a problem raising one million dollars to organize a friendly match in Ghana for the Black Stars. Gate fees alone can raise the money. The full capacity for each of the stadia in Kumasi and Accra is 44,000. Making room for officials including security personnel and all others who have to be in the stadium with 4,000, the average/median gate fee for Ghana/Germany or Ghana/England friendly match would be $25 or Gh40. This is the figure you will have to contend with. How many tickets will go to the foreigners and at what price? Twenty thousand Ghanaians watched Ghana/England in 2011.What will be the price for “popular stand”? The gate fee and the number of tickets for the popular stand would be determined and sold later.
Second, the match should be scheduled at least six months in advance, tickets sold three months prior and proceeds deposited in a 91-day Treasury bill account in a given bank. One of the problems GFA encounters is the sale of tickets at the gate. No serious businessman will run his company this way. The method is counterproductive. It gives room for all sorts of unnecessary interference and inability to know how much was realized through the sale of tickets. Some of the 4,000 seats set aside can be given to all personnel associated with the printing and sale of tickets and also to deal with all sorts of reasons why GFA prefers to sell tickets at the gates. This is the right way to be sure of organizing the friendly game with the required financial resources at your disposal.
Kwasi, another way to subsidize the ticket for the popular stand is the sale of Television (TV) rights. Organize a sealed-bid sale for all the TV stations in Ghana and offer an exclusive right to telecast the game to the highest bidder. This should be done in advance for the winning TV station to sell advertizing spots to various companies. No other TV station can show any part of the game while it is still in progress. After the match whoever wants to show it will have to buy the clip(s) to show to their audience. The restriction should apply not only to TV stations but also both radio and online web stations. In this case Kwasi both GFA and the selected TV station will make money through increased viewership. You do not need to go round companies and financiers with a cup in your hand soliciting for sponsors. They should rather run to you for it
Kwasi stop the idea of choosing between Kumasi and Accra as to which city would host the game. This is another way of making money for GFA. Let all the four cities with national stadia submit sealed-bid to seek for the right to host Ghana/Germany or Ghana/Brazil friendly. The mayors will raise the required funds through the various business concerns in their respective cities since they stand to boost their financial intake. Kwasi you will see how the various cities will compete for the right to host every match because such games put more money into such economies. Who knows if someone from Tamale or Sekondi-Takoradi will come up with the requisite funds just to gain the bragging rights for a Ghana-US match even though they each have a 20,000 capacity stadia. This will be an effective way to capitalize on the economic significance of bragging rights.
Print t-shirts and other related game-paraphernalia in advance, distribute them among various outlets and sell them at prices that are very offensive to imitators with the intention of dissuading them from spending resources to undercut you. Do not try to make a fortune from this but rather margins to make it profitable for the retailers to push your wares.
Another source of funding could come from fan interaction with players. Set a day aside and call it Fan Appreciation Day. This day will provide a rare opportunity for fans to meet, interact with and take pictures with world renowned soccer players who Ghanaians only see on TV. You would charge nominal entry fees and depending on the country or players involved you would see how many people would patronize such a program.
Kwasi, Ghanaians want and are prepared to pay for the best. For the past two world cups Ghana has played and is yet to win a match against a country that had ever won the World Cup. We lost against Italy and Brazil in 2006; Germany humbled us in 2010 while Uruguay showed us the exit in the World Cup. Ghanaians love to hate and probably want to “kill” Suarez. Why not capitalize on this and bring him to Ghana. I wish you see can see what I am looking at in terms of a businessman with a “hot cake” for his customers. “This is a fine case.”
Kwasi, you can see from the foregoing that you can easily raise more than $1 million if and only if you put your acts together. You should rather be paying $150,000 to others instead of you being paid. There is no harm in trying. Ghanaians will forgive you if only you give them the best and in the process you lose financially. If Ghana wants to be world champions then we have to play with the best and beat those who have won it in the past. You cannot sit in your office and cry there is no money and expect to win the world cup. Roll up your sleeves, put a planning committee together and get strong teams come to Ghana to play friendly games.
Opanin Kwabena Mensah