There have been suggestions that the topflight league in Ghana should be increased from 16 to 18 clubs
The proposal is expected to be discussed at congress on 12th December, 2016 for approval or otherwise.
There have been several suggestions in the past for the topflight league to go 18-club or 20-club league: mostly for political and football reasons.
It is an open secret that governments in past lobbied for the Ghana Premier League to be increased to 18 or 20 clubs to accommodate relegated like teams Real Tamale United (RTU) and Hasaacas to ensure people in the Northern and Western regions, enjoyed premier league football and in the end score political points.
The Ghana Football Association (GFA) has on countless occasions came to a crossroads on whether to increase the number of clubs in the league based on disputed judicial proceedings or to avoid litigation.
Although, the association hasn’t stated why it intended to up the number of participating clubs to 18 clubs, it appears such a proposal is being considered in an attempt to end the ongoing legal battle between Tema Youth and Dreams FC over the legibility of Daniel Gozar.
In this matter, the Disciplinary Committee of the GFA ruled in favour of Dreams FC, even after the Player Status Committee had ruled that the player in question was wrongfully registered by Dreams FC. Tema Youth, who felt unfairly treated, after going through all the internal judicial mechanisms, sent the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) which ruled that a new Appeal’s Committee should be reconstituted to sit on the case.
As it stands now the GFA finds itself between a rock and a hard place, because Tema Youth and Dreams FC are owned by Osei Palmer and Kurt Okraku, both members of the Executive Committee.
The GFA needs to however consider the bigger picture and not just the maintenance of alliances in reaching a solution if it is to retain its legitimacy as an unbiased association.
The association has reached this point because its judicial bodies have failed to deliver justice in several cases thereby weakening the judicial bodies which are the bedrock of the association.
A bad precedence would be set if the number of participating clubs are increased to accommodate Tema Youth and Dreams FC, because in future some of these legal tussles might come up again and since there is precedence, other clubs would like toe the same line to get their way .
Increasing the number of clubs won’t help financially. Last season several Premier League clubs threatened to boycott the league due to financial challenges when they were benefiting from the $700,000 sponsorship from pay TV giants Super Sports. The new offer from StarTimes is $1.7m a year, but the amount would be reduced to about $1,360,000 after 20% is paid to broker of the deal. At the same time the sponsorship also covers the FA Cup, the Women’s League, Division One League and Juvenile football, so in the end about $900,000 would go to Ghana Premier League and instead of the money being disbursed among 16 clubs it would have to be shared among 18 clubs.
Meanwhile, there is no headline sponsor to complement the StarTimes money, so the clubs would continue to struggle financially, because the increase in TV right would have no consequence on their welfare.
The way out
The clubs form congress and failure to take the right decision would haunt them in the end. I wont be surprised if more clubs are put up for sale next season, should they sanction an 18-cub league next season, because they are going to play more games and travelling expenses will increase. When last season came to an end clubs like Medeama, AshGold, Chelsea, New Edubiase, etc attempted to invite partners to help them out or put the clubs up for sale due to financial challenges. It would be shocking to see these same clubs go to congress and accept an increase in the number of participating teams, because that would mean signing their death warrant.
This is the time the GFA Appeals Committee should be fair and firm to ensure justice is served by ruling on the matter before them without fear or favour to bring back the confidence.