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Sports Features of Saturday, 24 August 2013

Source: Christopher Opoku

Why the GFA is struggling to find sponsorship for Premier League

This is a subject I have written on a few weeks ago, even though at the time, I was generalizing the issue. A number of things have happened since then.

The Ghana Football Association is struggling to attract any company to sponsor the Premier League, after the expiration of the contract with Telecommunications giants Globacom.

As we all know, Glo signed a contract with the GFA in 2008 to invest $3 million every year into the Premier League for five years and in return, the competition would be known as the Glo Premier League.

Almost a year ago, following the failure of Glo to adhere to the payment plan agreed upon by the GFA, the compromise agreement was reached where the GFA agreed to accept a 30% discount on the payments.

Now that the deal is over, the GFA is understandably adopting the softly-softly approach to retrieve the $2.2 million owed it by Glo. The GFA President, Kwesi Nyantakyi has had to fly to Nigeria to hold crisis talks with Glo over the issues.

GFA spokesperson Ibrahim Sannie Daara has already publicly asked companies to invest in the Premier League, noting that the Premier League will guarantee more exposure for potential sponsors than the GFA’s current cash cow, the Black Stars.

I perfectly agree with Sannie Daara that the Premier League guarantees a lot of exposure for potential sponsors, but to repeat something I stated some time back, the GFA has failed to give Glo the needed mileage that would have match the annual $3 million investment.

Don’t get me wrong; I am very concerned about what is going on and I am less than impressed by Glo’s antics.

For instance Glo wants to renew the contract with the GFA, but on further reduced terms.

I am not happy with Glo because the company’s hierarchy has been unable to come out clean and tell the GFA in no uncertain terms that they did not get the mileage they expected in return for the massive investment.

The Cat-and-mouse game being played by Glo in this regard is not admirable in any sense, but personally, I feel that the GFA has not stepped up to the plate in terms of making sure that Glo got the mileage it deserves.

I have made some suggestions in this regard and I will repeat them in this piece.

There are those who would argue that there was live television coverage of the Premier League, coupled with the many discussion programmes on television and radio which would have given Glo the mileage it deserves.

Sorry folks, but I disagree! Take a look at the English Premier League for example. Before every match day, every single team holds a pre-match press conference on either Thursday or Friday before the game on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

You will notice that at any of such conferences, the television cameras are there, together with many press men present.

The club’s respective managers use such conferences to answer questions about injuries, suspensions, possible line ups and other issues.

The backdrop is always done with the logo of Barclays bank, sponsors of the EPL. That is an excellent way of giving the sponsor mileage.

Also, there is always the Barclays Premier League player and manager of the month awards.

Again, such presentations are done in the full glare of television cameras and the press. Plaques with the Barclays Bank logo design are presented to deserving winners.

Finally, games are played on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, giving the sponsor more mileage since more games will be on TV.

In Ghana, such pre-match press conferences are virtually non-existent. Even when radio stations try to reach the coaches on phone, the coaches are reluctant to speak for fear that the opponent might work ‘black magic’ on the possible line up of players.

Even worse is the belief that since Saturday is the designated day for funerals in the country and Monday matches will see empty stadia, the games have to be played on Sundays.

No work is done to even recognize the work of players and coaches who excel month by month. The question I ask is this; are we saying that these things are not doable in Ghana? Are we saying that asking the clubs to organize regular pre and post-match press conferences is too much to ask?

Are we saying that we cannot play our games on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays to maximize television exposure? To this day, some clubs even think that the presence of television cameras result in the loss of games.

So what is the GFA doing to resolve the outstanding issues? Is the Premier League Board and by extension the GFA pandering to the whims and caprices of clubs, instead of educating them? Your guess is as good as mine.

Bluntly put, there are serious questions to be asked about what the Marketing Department of the GFA is up to.

What sort of posture does it adopt towards potential sponsors? Do officials of the department make the effort to visit such potential sponsors to spread the gospel according to the Premier League, or do they ask the potential sponsors to come to the department at the GFA?

Again, what is the Sponsorship and Marketing Committee of the GFA doing to ensure that the Premier League is attractive to sponsors?

A friend of mine, who is a marketing expert, remarked that unless the product is packaged correctly and attractively, there is no way that any potential buyer would purchase the product.

The same principle applies to sponsorship. To wit, if the Premier League is not made attractive enough, then there is no way that the GFA can attract potential sponsors.

The sad thing is that clubs these days battle to come to the Premier league because, rather than see these sponsorship monies as supplementary to their budgetary needs, the clubs see the $120,000 allocated to each club as their entire budget.

I have said it before and I will say it again; clubs should stop bribing referees and use that money instead to resource proper marketing departments within each club so that teams can get their own sponsors through the right means.

Simply put, these are some of the major reasons why the GFA may have to concede to Glo’s demands to renew the deal at around $1.5 million a year, if reports are to be believed.

That would represent a 50% cut on the original sum. I wonder whether that means that the Premier league has diminished in value by 50%.

Whatever the case is, the GFA might have to change personnel at the Marketing department and on the Sponsorship and Marketing Committee, as well as embarking on radical reforms that would enhance the product’s attractiveness.

Otherwise, we are on a hiding to nowhere.