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Sports Features of Friday, 29 February 2008

Source: Dey, Kafui

Ghana’s Biggest Club – Hearts or Kotoko?

Have you heard that a survey has been done to find out which club is the most popular in Ghana? No? Well, I am not surprised because no such research has been conducted yet. But just imagine for a moment. Some enterprising company wants to do just that – conduct a survey to establish which of the football teams has the largest following. Would it be difficult to achieve? What would be the objectives of a project like this?

For a start, investment in a survey like this would cost money. Lots of it. This is because the project would have to include respondents from all over the country. Consequently, field staff would have to be recruited, trained, housed, fed, transported and remunerated. But it would be a step in the right direction. Broadening the scope of the research would help to ensure its credibility. Far too often, the views of people in Accra and Kumasi are taken as being fully representative of Ghanaians in general. It is quite possible that perspectives outside Ghana’s two largest cities may turn out to be quite unlike what may have been expected as a trend. So the researchers would necessarily have to interview respondents living in all ten regions of Ghana. At whose cost, you ask? A possible source of funding could be the clubs themselves since the findings of the survey could potentially benefit them.

What questions would the researchers ask during such a football fan survey? I would imagine that they would be looking for information on geographical spread of fan base, strength of fan loyalty and perceptions just to mention a few. The geographical question for example could determine whether Asante Kotoko’s fans are concentrated in the team’s home region or spread out over the country. The benefits of having such data could enable the Kotoko’s top management to take strategic decisions concerning, say, the location of outlets for selling replica jerseys. Asking fans to speak about perceptions of their favourite club could provide useful insights for the organization’s directors. For example, a preponderance of negative views about Accra Hearts of Oak could signal an eventual decline in popularity of the club with its attendant financial consequences. Even the composition of fans is something that could be analyzed. Do younger people tend to support Asante Kotoko? If so, why? And how could the club take advantage of this fact if it were true? Seek sponsors from companies that deal in products and services targeted at the youth? Invest more in soccer academies? The possibilities are many and they all depend on a sound interpretation of fan numbers.

However, without referring to figures, virtually everybody in Ghana from the lowliest fan to the most senior sports administrator will put it to you that Hearts and Kotoko are the biggest football clubs in Ghana. My question is which club is number one in terms of its fan base? Do you not wonder how the clubs are able to effectively negotiate sponsorship deals when they lack credible third-party data on their fans? Which of the others in the Ghanaian Premier League is hot on the heels of the ‘top two’ in terms of popularity? Ashanti Goldfields? Liberty Professionals? Or maybe King Faisal? What impact will televised games have on team popularity? Could Zaytuna for example become the Chelsea of Ghana with the help of big bucks, expensive transfers and extensive television coverage from its sister company Metro TV? We can only know and make predictions if the figures are available. I hear some African traditions consider it taboo to count one’s children. Could that explain why no attempt as yet has been made to scientifically establish which team has the greatest following in Ghana? Is it Accra Hearts of Oak or Asante Kotoko? In the absence of impartial facts, how do you even decide?

Kafui Dey, Marketing Professional

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.