Ghana: Suspension of top-tier football league has clubs worried about finances

By Jonas Nyabor
Posted on Tuesday, 25 October 2022 17:50

Ashanti Gold SC vs Accra Lions

Ghana’s top-tier football league clubs have been caught in the legal crossfire between the local FA and demoted Ashanti Gold SC. The effect is a heavy toll on club finances.

When the Ghana Football Association announced a suspension of the league in September 2022, many of the clubs did not expect it to last too long.

A month on, the clubs fear that any further hold-up will deal serious blows to their finances.

“The longer this takes, the worse it gets for the football economy because the sustainability of a lot of the clubs is dependent on football actually going on,” says sports journalist Fentuo Tahiru.

Obuasi-based Ashanti Gold SC went to court in September to injunct the league in protest of its demotion to 2nd division over allegations of match-fixing.

The club was demoted alongside Inter Allies FC after a crucial league game between the two ended in a dubious 7-0 score line.  Ashanti Gold needed the victory to avoid relegation into the 1st division while Inter Allies was already resigned to relegation.

After a year’s investigation, the FA  slapped both clubs, some key players, and top officials with far-reaching sanctions including a 10-year ban and GH¢100,000 ($7100) fine on Ashanti Gold’s president, Kwaku Frimpong.

Efforts for reinstatement

Ashanti Gold’s turn to Ghana’s courts to get reinstated in the senior football league has become a major setback for the remaining clubs – no football, no money.

“Before the start of the league we all had plans but this has killed our momentum,” Patrick Akoto, communication manager for Medeama SC, tells The Africa Report.

Akoto, who is also the spokesperson for the association of Ghana’s league clubs, says: “We pay the players and all they do now is train and play friendly games… If we’re unlucky and this suspension holds unabated we have to restructure.”

When the league is in session, clubs get money from game ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and broadcasting rights money.

Besides paying players’ salaries, it also pays for their camping and feeding.

Drawing on personal funds

“It is very costly to camp players without revenue coming in. Unfortunately they can’t ask the players to go home because it isn’t time for an official football season break,” Tahiru says.

Akoto adds that club owners are now drawing on their personal funds and other private businesses to fund clubs.

“For Medeama, our main source of revenue is sponsorships. The sponsor takes care of everything and the club owner complements with his personal funds. [It is worse] for clubs without sponsors because mostly the club owners need to find other sources of revenue may be other private companies they operate.”

Prior to suspension

Days before the league was suspended, Kumasi Asante Kotoko made GH¢88,157 out of GH¢214,680 in gate proceeds from their game against arch-rivals Accra Hearts of Oak at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi.

Before the start of the league we all had plans but this has killed our momentum.”

The two are the country’s biggest clubs and generate some of the biggest amounts from gate proceeds anytime they face each other in domestic competition.

Other clubs are not as lucrative, making as little as GH¢2,000 from match ticket sales.

On sponsorships, most of the monies clubs receive from corporate organisations are performance-based and so they make no money if the league is not in session.

This means that Asante Kotoko would not be able to cash out the GH¢5000 bonus per win they received from Hisense last season if the deal was maintained for the current season.

Footballers also hit

Professional footballers have also been hit by the suspension of the league.

They are now entitled to just their salaries; that means no winning bonuses because there are no games.

“We understand that Ashanti Gold SC has every right to contest whatever punishment has been meted out to them but the collective interest of the other clubs might rightly override an individual club so we can only plead that the injunction is lifted,” Akoto says.

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