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Opinions of Friday, 7 July 2017

Columnist: Saddick Adams

Dissolve the Ghana Premier League Board with immediate effect

GPL week 21 comes off tomorrowGPL week 21 comes off tomorrow

If you are an avowed lover of the Ghana Premier League, events in recent weeks will certainly get you cheesed off with the organisers, the Premier League Board (PLB) and its mother body, the GFA regarding the careless running of the competition – and the earlier we all call for the dissolution of the current PLB structure, the better.

Otherwise, we must begin to find another name for our league, befitting the average quality of thinking and rate of disorderliness that goes into the top flight league. The current title of “PREMIER LEAGUE”, is irreconcilable and at sharp variance with the competition’s organisation, at least when weighed against other leagues of similar status.

For how long will a country’s Premier football League be toyed with, sponsors being spat on, clubs being played with and supporters being disrespected by the very people entrusted with authority?

I refer particularly to the mindless postponements and lack of a working calendar for the PREMIER league of Ghana in the 21st century, which makes me cringe as a football journalist and a lover of the once valued league!

Waking up to news that the Ashgold vs WAFA premier league clash has been postponed because of a friendly match involving Ghana CHAN team and Togo in Lome makes me realize that, planning and scheduling was a food for the dogs before the start of this league.

And that Ashanti Gold FC were only notified about the postponement only 2 days to the game is testament of the class competence under which the league is being administered.

For the records, this is the 28th game that has been hurriedly suspending only this season, and not done so due to emergency circumstances, but as a result of the injudicious planning by leadership.

It is now increasing clear that, our so-called PREMIER league, is not only suffering from financial, infrastructural and technical deficiencies. The biggest of its diseases has been administration. The apparent profound administrative impotence!

The most basic structure for the organisation and running of every football competition is the existence of a CALENDAR, which is essentially the programmed timetable by which the competition courses!

For a competition as elevated as the country’s top flight, the building of a tailor-made calendar is absolutely crucial, and therefore, the stage requires deep-thinkers – who are expected to come out with one with consummate perfection.

Now the rub of the Ghana football headship is; whether there are no deep-thinkers at the helm of affairs, or there are, but in wrong positions!

The Ashgold-WAFA game is not the only match that has been rescheduled under ill-considered circumstances. It is the third time in two weeks that premier league games have been postponed for similar objectionably nauseating reasons.

In April this year, ALL eight premier league matches of the week 14 were unwisely postponed by the Premier League due to a ceremonial Ghana@60 clash between Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak, a game supposedly organised for fun.
Several premier league club leaders, notably the Chief Executive Officer of Bechem United, Kingsley Owusu Achiaw slammed the PLB for the grotty decision, but as usual, his call fell on rocks.

Even before start of this year’s competition, the kickoff date kept tossing about like a swing, a familiar move that certainly drove fans and other stakeholders up the wall, but who cares from the top?

It was startling that, following the announcement of 4th February 2017 as the official kickoff date of the 2016/2017 league season, the PLB, less than a week after that announcement, called off the games and postponed to 11th February.

They body cited the Black Stars participation in the Afcon as the reason for the postponement, and what a bogus and sick-making reason it was!

The Black Stars had qualified for the AFCON 4 months earlier, and the Afcon calendar had been in place 12 months before the announcement of the Premier League season’s calendar. So did a drop thinking and element of planning ever go into preparation of the league CALENDAR? Absolutely NOT.

During my elementary schooled days in the village, there was always one calendar at the headmaster’s office. This yearly calendar had all notable events and specific dates MARKED in blue and white inks. Public and catholic holidays, science and sports weeks, district quiz weeks, craft exhibition weeks, mock examinations and final examination weeks etc.

These dates, for years preceding my stay in the school and years after, have always been in sync with the national, regional, district and circuit programmes.

There was and never has been an instance of clash of schedules. By the start of the regional sports competition, all district school would have competed and completed their championships, and this is by virtue and respect of that calendar in every village headmasters’ office!

Before the start of any of the TOP national leagues in the world, dates are announced several months, and hardly will there ever be useless and overnight postponements.

With the English Premier League for instance, the calendar building involves a laborious process that begins four years ahead of each season, taking into consideration Fifa and Uefa international schedules, then goes through a raft of complex stages before the final fixture list is signed off.

Presumably those in positions as Premier League bosses, trusted with deciding when supporters must travel the length of the country, how same city clubs must not play at home same day, and how UEFA and FIFA matches must not clash with premier league game, then go and shelter in a dark room for a long, long time. Engaging in thorough think and involving technical experts.

This process are markedly same for the Tunisian Leagues, Egyptian, South African, Turkish League, the Spanish Leagues, the German Leagues etc.

During the preparation of the seasonal EPL calendar, there are men responsible for inputting all the data into the “fixtures computer”, but before that, the Football League, Premier League, Football Association and the Football Supporters’ Federation undergo a series of thorough discussions alongside the clubs, starting when a draft schedule is first proposed in November of the previous year.

That is the time and energy invested in cooking the best leagues in the world, and that is why we keep jilting the mediocre ones for the best.
The leadership we have here, at least based on their output, are direct opposite of the above.

The Ghana PREMIER league, in the last 5-6 years, has never had a DEFINITE calendar. There has never been an exact completion date, and the 30-week course has always been messed by thoughtless postponements.

The current postponement comes few days after DOUBLE rescheduling of the entire week 21 fixtures to make way for a President’s Cup game in Kumasi.

ALL Premier League games were blocked on the Sunday of the President Cup at the Baba Yara stadium on 2nd July. And after rainstorms caused the ceremonial game to be pushed to the next day, the midweek premier league games on Wednesday were scrapped off AGAIN.

Meanwhile, some clubs had already travelled, or begun preparations for the midweek games but as usual, there were given little or no thought at all by the big men at the top. What they sayeth, with or without thought, is what stayeth.

Don’t forget the regular postponements we had to endure for Bechem United and Wa All Stars to play in the CAF Cups at the early stages of the league that almost killed the tempo.

Where are the so-called experts in Ghana football, who have on countless occasions flown to Germany, England and South Africa under the pretext of learning football organisation.

But for natural disasters and force majeures, has there ever been an instance where the English or German topflight has had to be postponed because the Three Lions are engaged in a friendly? Hell no.

President Cup games have been organised since 2003, and always has 1st July as the SPECIFIC date for the occasion.

It has been more than a decade into it, so why must the game clash with, and cause the postponement of the Premier League if one of the over 30 Premier League board members had given it the slimmest of thoughts during fixture preparation?

Again, the CHAN tournament calendar was announced two years ago, and there was always going to be Ghana in it. Was there no critical thinkers to have consulted the CAF calendar?

Even TOGO, the country we have postponed a premier league game to engage in friendly, have substantially made conscious efforts to synchronize their league with the FIFA and CAF calendar.

The 2016-2017 Togolese league finished May, same as all the top leagues in the world, and the next edition will begin in September, in line with the ideal football calendar.

Ghana’s 2016 league started in February of 2017, and it is not yet clear when the season will come to an end, judging from the chaotic arrangements.
The above points, coupled with a legion of already visible administrative lapses are the reasons why the Ghana Premier League will continue to sink, and sink deeper every year.

Less thoughts, little planning but a bunch of leaders appearing to be leading and clubs appearing to be playing professionally in a league appearing to be premier. Circus familiar every other season.

No sponsor will throw money into such a hopeless system that runs from the pockets and finger tips of powerful individuals by whose wishes scheduled games on TV can be called off.

When a league’s scheduling and calendar runs like a faulty wrist clock, it ends up miserable.

No organization, or visionary individual will love to be associated with a football system that profess to be full of hope yet so full of holes, and that is what the Ghana Premier League is, at least for the past decade.

Imagine an investor, or agent checks the Ghana league calendar,and travels from Germany to watch Ashgold vs WAFA match, lands in Accra and flies to Obuasi on Saturday, only to be told the game has been postponed after a meeting by the PLB (whatever that acronym means to him)

If the Inter School soccer competition has been consistent for 20 years, why CAN’T the Ghana Premier League?

There is no doubt the PLB has in its fold, so many dignified men who have excelled in their fields of endeavours, but until the current structure is disbanded, and a more organised and purposeful body of radical leaders put in charge, I’m afraid we may still have to live with the mediocre standards for long

For crying out loud, this is disgusting for the Ghana Premier League!