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Opinions of Thursday, 26 August 2021

Columnist: Anthony Sedinam Nyamordey

Accra Lions or Tema Youth, who won zone three of DOL?

Accra Lions Football Club Accra Lions Football Club

How can the same Article 13 which deals with the withdrawal of clubs be applied differently by the Appeals Committee in the cases of Amidaus Professionals and Phar Rangers?

“Once points were expunged from the accumulated build-up of all clubs in the Amidaus case, the same rule must apply in the Phar Rangers case since the appeals committee applied the same Article 13”, this was a quote from Wilfried Osei Kwaku popularly known as Palmer, owner of Tema Youth in an interview with Daily Graphic.

Tema Youth has maintained that they are the rightful winners of the Zone Three of the just ended Division One League of Ghana and are entitled to be promoted to the Ghana Premier League.

However, Accra Lions were crowned champions of that Zone by officials of the Division One League Board (DOLB) on the strength of their superior goals and head-to-head advantage over Tema Youth, despite the two sides finishing 65 points apiece. How did we get here and what is the bone of contention?

According to Palmer in the interview referred to earlier, the Appeals Committee of the Ghana Football Association skewed the rules in favour of Accra Lions by applying the same Article 13, which deals with the withdrawal of clubs from the DOL, differently in the cases of Amidaus Professionals and Phar Rangers respectively.

The Appeals Committee in dismissing the appeal filed by Amidaus said among other things that Amidaus Professionals failed to register its players for the Division One League and that the effect of the non-registration of players is that the club could not honour any match.

In the view of the committee, the failure of Amidaus to register its players prior to the commencement of the league without just a case amounted to a withdrawal from the league.

Amidaus had earlier submitted in their statement of claim that failure to register players and honour matches did not amount to withdrawal, this the committee disagrees. The big question to ask the organizers of the league is; How and why did they allow Amidaus Professionals to subsequently register and honour matches?

The committee attempted to answer this by saying that the Ghana Football Association should have preferred charges against the club immediately after they failed to register and honour their matches.

The committee further stated that in their view all the matches played by Amidaus after the registrations should be deemed as Null and Void. In my view what the committee sought to establish is that these matches be seen as never happened.

In the case of Phar Ranger, the committee first had to make a determination Whether or not Phar Rangers’ letter on the 7th June 2021 constituted a Withdraw from the league that they were participating in despite sending a second letter on the 9th June 2021 revoking the earlier letter.

The committee took the view that notwithstanding the recission letter from Phar Rangers on the 9th June 2021, the offense under Article 13(1) of the GFA Division One League was committed when Phar Ranger sent the letter dated 7th June 2021 to the Ghana Football Association.

Once it was established that Phar Rangers was liable for the offense under Article 13(1) the proper charge that came with the offense was laid.
Tema Youth is aggrieved because before Amidaus Professionals were charged with the offense of withdrawal from the league by the Disciplinary Committee and affirmed by the Appeals Committee, Tema Youth was two points ahead of Accra Lions.

Tema Youth however lost that advantage after three points were expunged from their points build-up, while Accra Lions lost only one point in the process.

The Two Cases

In my opinion, the two cases are very different in nature, for that matter the rule in the first case cannot be applied to the second case. This is to say that the Amidaus case cannot be a precedent to the second case simply because there is a distinguishing factor. What is the distinguishing factor here? The distinguishing factor for me, in this case, is; At which stage of the competition did the “Withdrawal” happen.

In the Amidaus case, it was established that the withdrawal happened before the commencement of the league, that is to say, Amidaus did not qualify to even partake in the league in the first place.

The Appeals Committee pointed out that the Regulations did not make provisions for the instance that played out in the Amidaus case, therefore, in my opinion, it gave the committee the opportunity to use their discretion on the back of Article 13 (3).

In the Phar Rangers case, the Appeals Committee in my view used Deductive Reasoning or Logical Syllogism in coming to its conclusion.

In that, the major premise is Article 13 (5) which states “where a club withdraws from the league it has started, any match that the club is scheduled to play shall be considered forfeited and accordingly three (3) points and three (3) goals shall be awarded in favour of the opposing club”.

The minor premise in my view was established once Phar Ranges were found liable of Article 13 (1) hence the conclusion being Phar Rangers being handed the sanctions in Article 13 (5).

This goes without saying that unlike the Amidaus case the Phar Rangers case is clearly provided for in the provisions of the GFA Division One League Regulations and hence the committee did not have a right of discretion in the matter.

Certainly, these two cases cannot be identical hence the rule in the first cannot apply in the second. Though coming under Article 13 of the GFA Division One League Regulations, the two becomes two different precedences on their own going forward in the absence of any amendments to the regulation.

From the above, who then is indeed the rightful winner of the Zone Three of the Division One League that just ended? Is Tema Youth right in crying foul for the way these two cases have been adjudicated? It will be interesting to see how this case is finally brought to rest since we have not heard the last on this.

Tema Youth is expected to send a petition to the GFA in the coming days if they have not done that already. It is the view of many that this case might end up at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), in fact, Tema Youth is not new to CAS. In all of these Accra Lions has not reacted to the development.