IT would be a fantasy for anyone to think of a world football for months, but this has been the reality since the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The unexpected outbreak of the pandemic has had devastating implications on our lives, businesses, and the games we love. For football lovers, staying for months without seeing our favourite teams and players on the field has been a big deal.
COVID-19 has had immeasurable impact on world football. Like any other sector, this pandemic has exposed a lot of lapses in the game itself and in club management. It has particularly shown us how financially unstable most clubs have been.
European powerhouses such as Barcelona, Juventus and Atletico Madrid have all been exposed. The situation in Ghana is on, if not worse. Our clubs have particularly been severely hit by this pandemic. With club financiers having it tough in their businesses in the wake of the pandemic, most Ghanaian clubs are struggling to pay the ‘peanuts’ they give to players as salaries. Some have even resorted to player pay cuts to lessen their financial burden. Overly criticising these clubs in this situation may be unfair, because even some giants of world football are struggling to balance their financial statements.
What football stakeholders should be doing now is to examine the club management system in Ghana.
What does the future hold for Ghana football? Will our clubs and leagues become attractive to fans and the corporate world? Would our teams be able to compete at the highest level? Would the welfare of our players improve? These are some questions football administrators should be answering.
It is very important for us to know that conscious progressive strategic planning is what will make the difference. The future of our league and football clubs depends on how deliberate football administrators are now in planning for the future. In doing this, the football fraternity ought to remember that:
1. Membership to the GFA is not a right in Ghana
The Ghana Football Association (GFA) is not bound by any law in Ghana to register clubs. A club can only be admitted as a member of the GFA when Congress, based on the GFA statues, deems it fit. Let's remember that a person or group of persons' ability to buy sets of jerseys, balls and boots is not enough to own a club, let alone be a member of the GFA. To be a member of the FA, you should prove to be financially stable and have a reliable source of funding. You should prove that player welfare can be guaranteed. We cannot continue to lower standards. There should be strict enforcement of the club licensing laws if we want a better future for football in Ghana. It is better to play a five-club league that is of high quality and high professionalism than to have an 18-club league that cannot even attract fans, let alone sponsors.
Existing clubs should be compelled to publish their annual financial reports and strict thresholds must be highlighted to ensure clubs have the needed amount of money to stay active.
2. You can't depend on the government to move to the next level
If our clubs are waiting on government funds to revitalise, then we should all brace ourselves up for the worst. If our clubs are going to be relying on the government stimulus package the GFA is seeking for the then the future of Ghana football is very bleak.
The best the government's stimulus package can do for any club is to get it back to the level it was before the pandemic. For a better future after this pandemic, our clubs should position themselves well to attract the support from corporate entities.
3. To compete at the highest level, keep your best players
If you line-up mediocre players, you get mediocre results.
Our clubs cannot continue to trade their best players for few dollars and still want to compete at the highest level. Teams in Ghana should keep their best players, improve their welfare and motivate them well enough if they want to play at the continental level and make their impacts felt.
The earlier they did this, the better for football in Ghana.
So, will COVID-19 change the face of football in Ghana? Yes, football will not remain the same after this pandemic, but whether the change will be positive or negative depends on how strategic our clubs and football administrators can be.