FROM THE BOARDROOM

FROM THE BOARDROOM

This week I went to the SSNIT Hospital in Osu to see my old friend and sometime adversary Alhaji Jawula. My friend had been admitted with High Blood Pressure.  Some people were surprised to see me going to visit the GFA Chairman. I was surprised that they were surprised. Disagreement and criticism should be seen as progressive where possible. This is where you seek change and not destruction. This is also where you can be strong and yet still be on talking terms with the people you criticise.

Alhaji was happy to see me and I promised to bring him some fruit juice. We discussed my article in the last edition of the Express. Alhaji is in a very difficult position because by virtue of his position he controls the GFA and ultimately must be held responsible for the actions of his body! This it can be argued is unfair because it is Oheneba Charles and his cohorts who should have been solely taken to task for their quick fire action against Kotoko following the incident at Tema Park. The irony is that this week a senior officer of Afienya slapped a match official at the same venue. It has been pathetic to watch the silence displayed by Oheneba Charles and his cohorts in this matter. For me the sad truth is that Alhaji does not hate Kotoko BUT he sides over people who clearly are insensitive to public opinion and an understanding of business and social etiquette.  If Ghana Football is to move ahead and conquer the World then it is important that the GFA and its assigns change and those not capable of making the important change do the honourable thing and commit hari kari!

I wish I could leave matters concerning the GFA here. I can’t. I am trying to plan for Kotoko’s immediate future with respect to what happens after the match against Accra Hearts of Oak. I have negotiated to have the Kotoko first team squad fly to Germany to train with the Hamburg side. This was based on an understanding that the season would be starting near the end of November. Now we are being told that the season will start at the end of February next year. The Germans are finding it difficult to understand that our governing body do not even know when we are playing. We will make the trip for the sake of our honour and to ensure that we are able to maintain our relationship going forward. In Germany we will train just like the Bundeslega side. They will take one or two of our best players and draft them into their full professional side for them to see what it takes. David Booth will arrive in Europe on October 21st and will proceed to Germany to join the team. We will play a total of five games whilst in Germany.

We are entering the last seven days of the season this week. We have faltered badly recently and even last Wednesday’s victory against Dawu was less than convincing. Our season is  on a knife-edge. We share the same points as Okwawu and Dwarfs and a further one point separates us from the next five teams. Defeat could plunge us to eighth or ninth in the league table. Victory would ensure us the second berth. Coach Ouattara is up against it. He and the players owe the supporters of Asante Kotoko far greater effort and planning. We cannot afford to play in the manner we have recently against Ghapoha, Dawu and King Faisal. This I will not tolerate. I signed a pact with ALL members of Kotoko’s playing body. I have kept my side of the bargain. Several members, not all of the playing body, have let me down. They have broken the contract by failing to give the level of commitment expected from players who are looked after in the manner they are!  What surprises me is that the season is ending and I have to make sure that I get the best for Kotoko in terms of the playing body! There are several players that Kotoko need and there are several players who Kotoko has to let go.  For those who want to play for Kotoko next season they have seven days to prove that they are capable of being picked for the “new” squad to go to Europe and play for Kotoko for next season!  Kotoko players must be players who aspire to play for the National teams or be National players!

The Gbadegbe probe has been quite thorough to date. I was quite surprised when I was asked to return on October 26th. Kwabena Adjapong apparently mentioned my name and apparently objected to articles seen in a sports weekly in late August which according to him suggested that I said that he would be getting 25% of the Mantey transfer monies. He suggested that I had shown double standards for dealing with the same Wilgot Andersson and that he had negotiated a much better deal for Robert Boateng than I had for Mantey. What a truly extraordinary outburst! I hardly know Mr. Adjapong so it is difficult for me to determine whether this is the norm for him or whether he is reacting because he is currently under stress. To the enlightened it is public knowledge that the reason that the Kotoko Express has been established is to counter all the incorrect and speculative information about Kotoko matters! It is naïve for anyone to assume that we read all papers and unreasonable to expect us to react to all information that are released by “other” papers. We have announced and hope that people now understand that the Express is the official and ONLY mouthpiece of Asante Kotoko! It is for this reason that the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II inaugurated the paper and gave strict guidelines on the manner in which we operate. I was not and am not happy with the fact that Mantey has gone. I made it clear at the time and I repeat it now. Mantey insisted that he had total confidence in Andersson and that Andersson was his man. I had grave misgivings because of the then unresolved matter of Robert Boateng’s transfer details. If the player had not insisted I would not have allowed him to go with Andersson and certainly not at that time.  The most contentious part of the proposed transfer was the 50% due to Andersson for the transfer and onward transfer. This basis of negotiations with Andersson was based on the document signed by George Adusei Poku and Kwabena Adjapong and which George Adusei Poku tendered to the Commission. It is the same document that Andersson sent to me! The document was not limited to any specific player and was not limited to time.   What surprises me more than anything is that I have taken a very clear position with respect to the probe. This is that we have made general enquiries about some players and have left it at that for the commission to delve and ascertain the truth. With Robert Boateng’s transfer the sheer difference in what the Chairman declared to me and what had been declared to Kotoko was the reason that further investigation was warranted. I do not see how any clear minded person who has Kotoko’s interest truly at heart could object to the fact that we managed to get Mr. George Adusei Poku to confirm that the transfer of Robert Boateng was indeed for $600,000 and not $250,000 as was declared by Mr. George Adusei Poku’s administration. The additional $200,000 Mr. Adusei Poku intimated could have been monies paid to Andersson and of which Robert Boateng may have benefited.

Kotoko is being taken to court for a number of transfer related matters. It would be irresponsible for present management to ignore matters that could sink the club into greater trouble.

Last Friday night my good friend Harry Zakhour came to visit me at my new humble abode. Harry and I have been friends for years. Although from different backgrounds we share similar passions and have always been close. This season we initiated a level of camaraderie on and off the field that has not been previously demonstrated. Our matches have been totally peaceful. Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak are the two biggest clubs in Ghana. We need to work together to bring about change. There needs to be major change in the system if we are to achieve the levels of development that will bring us to a par with some of our neighbours. I have started. For Harry it is not easy. I say this because a lot of what has to be done involves tackling the GFA, Sports Council etc. All their appointees are political and as we know Harry’s team is based in Accra. Things at Kotoko have changed. I know there are a lot of senior political figures in the NDC who love Kotoko. I want them to come out of the closet and join me for the future. Soccer is a sport. It is not political. It is about people and money. Their passions are about what happens on the field and what it takes of the field to make it happen.

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