One down many more to go
On Wednesday Kotoko became the inaugural Champions of the Kofi Annan Trophy when they beat Dwarfs 2-1 on aggregate. Although we lost 1-0 on the day we took the trophy by dint of having won the first leg in Kumasi 2-0. All of Kotoko was ecstatic because it means we will be able to present Otumfuo Osei Tutu II with this trophy. The first of the season. A case of one down many more to go. In the good old days winning trophies was second nature to Kotoko. We are trying to take Kotoko back to those days. This match will be played for annually. The match itself was very tight with both teams trying to control the midfield. We continued to give our youngsters a try. The future will be dependent on how these young players can fit into Kotoko today. Although they clearly not start in most matches their supporting cast this season will be key for the future. There were some great passages of play. We do need the return of our more experienced players to buttress the team. The experience will give the youngsters the added confidence and support when they come on to the field to enable the best to be brought out of them. When under pressure it was clear to see David’s influence on the structure and direction of the team. One aspect of our game that I found most comforting was the communication between the players. The teamwork and spirit was great to see.
I need to commend our host, Nana Butler. Thoughout the match both home and away Nana showed class in behaviour. We thank him for this although perhaps it is only to be expected. My first dealings with Nana were when we were purchasing Michael Osei. At that time Nana showed that he was a man of principle. Kotoko approached him first and he therefore gave us the respect in negotiation. The price never changed even though the new interested parties tried to offer substantially more than what we had offered. Most significantly though was the fact that when Michael was being tempted by higher monies being offered and made statements indicating that he might like to play for another team, Nana waited and spoke with Michael before releasing his card to Kotoko. This maturity on the part of Nana ensured that there was no animosity between any of the clubs and also ensured that the player’s future was safeguarded. It is not always easy for young players to be as firm as they perhaps should be in these matters. They are often presented with financial promises in excess of anything they have ever seen before and this serves to confuse them. There must always be real clarity on the player’s real wishes before Club Chairmen attempt to transfer them.
On Sunday Kotoko will be honouring the J.O.T. Agyeman match against Hearts of Oak. The return leg will be played in Accra on the Wednesday. There was never any doubt that Kotoko would be honouring this match. The match is in honour of the father of the First Lady of Ghana. The trophy will be presented by H.E. JJ Rawlings on Wednesday. Kotoko are honoured that they should be considered to play in this match although as the best supported club in the Country it was inevitable that Kotoko should be asked.
My problem was and is with the “organisers”. The boys from the Ministry clearly have no idea of what it takes to organise a match. They believe that they can announce that a match is to be staged, instruct two teams to participate and them direct them as to what the split of monies will be. As the organisers they believe that they should be entitled to the majority of the monies raised. Unless such “organisers” are prepared to change their mindset they will continue to destroy the Ghanaian game. Soccer is big business as the Minister constantly reminds everyone. This talk must be followed through and not just spoken about. We are a professional football club and have put professional structures in place to enable us to operate as such. I have organised a number of events in which I have put together teams and invited other teams to play. The difference in my organisation and that of the organisers of the J.O.T. Agyeman trophy, is that they see Kotoko and Hearts as a means of raising cash where as I always saw teams like Kotoko and Hearts as the catalyst to approach other Corporate bodies to raise money for the event. This was clearly evident when I organised the Max Brito extravaganza and managed to give Max $20,000 and Ali Jarrah ¢10,000,000 despite the fact that monies from gate proceeds could not be properly accounted for. The initial offer from the “organisers” was for the two teams to receive only 25%. Clearly the organisers did not care of what our overheads and outstandings are. The time is coming for organisers to come forward and offer clubs an appearance fee commensurate with our standing and stature as the best supported team in the Country. The Organisers must be tasked to raise monies from elsewhere, properly market the match and raise monies for whatever cause the match is being played in honour off! When I attended the negotiations for the match I was surprised at the position and thinking of the “organisers” and told them as much. My position was that Kotoko should receive 80% of proceeds from the Kumasi gate with Hearts receiving 80% of proceeds in Accra. We would both leave the organisers to take 20% from both venues. I have suggested that the organisers also seek to donate ¢20,000,000 (twenty million cedis) to the winners of the match. If the organisers are unable to raise corporate sponsorship for a match of this prestige then they are clearly not fit to be the organisers.
It is an extension of this thinking that is clearly affecting the Clubs financials in Ghana soccer today. The Ministry and the GFA take 25% of all gate receipts whilst doing very little to justify this or to support the Clubs. I believe that the inability to negotiate properly with G-TV and TV 3 over rights issues and the inability to raise the appropriate sponsorship for Clubs as seed funding, is indicative of the need for Clubs to start negotiating on an individual basis rather than through the controlling bodies.
Kotoko clearly start as under dogs in the match with Hearts who are the Champions. Hearts have a fairly settled side and with the likes of Jacob Nettey back in action they will be able to use the established players like Dan Quaye, Mireku, Dida, Kenneth Sarpong, Yaw Sakyi, Desmond Amoah, Allotey, etc. to combine with the likes of Aja Tetteh. We are still rebuilding and with Humphrey Amoah, Godwin Ablordey, Felix Yeboah, Alex Djane, Atsou Frank and Shilla Alhassan all unavailable we will be using some of the young boys from the U18. Kotoko Hearts matches are often not about who is the stronger but who wants to win on the day! We intend to give the match the total commitment and seriousness that it deserves. .
This week has also seen both Lawrences sign their contracts with Kotoko. Kainya and Adjei have both signed their contracts. They must now fight their way into the regular side. The recruitment has continued up to this point because we are trying to build a very strong squad for the future. The seeds are being planted for the future. This year we are rebuilding. Commendations have to extended to both Kwame Bosempem, our Accra Rep. and Kojo Nyarko for their work and dedication in negotiations for players and the management of players before they are handed over to Alhaji Yaya and David Booth’s team.
I have been having discussions with Dr. Anthony Osei. He is a Kumasi based Psychologist. The Doctor will be recommending a strong medical team for management to consider. I still have to meet with Joe Owusu Ansah with respect to the financial management of Asante Kotoko.
The seeds have been sown. The harvest will be ready in 2001/2002 with great future crops being guaranteed. I am asking the great followers of Asante Kotoko to come and be a part of the rebuilding. Watch the seed to develop. If it is rushed it may not grow evenly or in an all-important balanced fashion. The seed has been planted. I now want to see the membership drive succeed.
In the first quarter of the season management shall be announcing congress of supporters. At present we have some 1,000 paid up members of Asante Kotoko. They will be invited to special congress. It will be open to all those who are paid up members by the date of the congress (yet to be announced).
Fabulous – the best