FROM THE BOARDROOM
Happy Birthday Nana
Happy Birthday Nana. At 51 years we hope that you had a wonderful day and that this year and the years that are to come are full of health and happiness! On Sunday we gave you a special birthday present by beating Bofoakwa 3 – 0. Before the match it rained .
I was standing with a friend who explained that given that it was your birthday and that you had performed some rites it was only natural that it should rain. He was convinced that the rain would only be temporary and the match would not be rained off! True enough it didn’t. Sunday was a lucky day and we believe that it had something to do with your birthday!
Nana Happy birthday. Your team is on the way back. We are not there yet but we are almost there. We are two years ahead of schedule and have 18 months to go.
Kotoko 3 Bofoakwa 0
We have the greatest supporters in the world…I repeat …we have the greatest supporters in the world. We arranged for our junior team to play the first division team, Yeji Elf and during the match it started raining. So heavy was the rain that I thought the supporters would not want to stay and watch our match against Bofoakwa. I had heard that the rains from the South was moving northward and that we should expect a non-stop and heavy down pour. Then out of nowhere the supporters in the stadium stood and sang to a man. They chanted songs…Kotoko songs…songs of hope…songs of encouragement. They danced in the stands. I was so moved. It is something I had never seen before. I was with a soccer investor from Austria who also completely taken aback. He had never seen anything like it before.
Our supporters not only conducted themselves with exemplary maturity but rose and supported their heroes where and when it mattered. They turned out in their numbers despite the rain and showed that they appreciated the efforts of the team.
What really impressed me was our bench. Stephen Oduro, Osei Kwame, Anas Mohammed, Kwaku Kyere, Abedi Safo, Angelo Dedon and Louis Quainoo were all on the bench. The water had made play very difficult but our boys stuck to it and had it not been for one or two decisions the score could easily have been 5 – 0 in favour of Kotoko. As it was Shilla Alhassan, Nana Frimpong and Godwin Ablordey took the credit for a fine team effort.
Ghalca’s victory for common sense…and professionalism!
The ongoing argument between Ghalca and the National Sports Council (NSC) seems to have ended. I am not sure why it started in the first place because it was all so inexplicable. Clubs hire the stadia at a cost! We contribute 10% of our gate proceeds to the NSC for use of their stadia. We also pay (rightly so) for some human resource assistance on match day.
The argument was centred on who should issue complimentary tickets for the VIP wings at the various stadia. Although the problem was centred on the Accra Sports Stadium the principle applies to all stadia and parks!
I believe that everyone must understand that we are in a new dispensation! In the bad old days this would not even have been discussed. Those days are now behind us and we club owners appreciate the efforts of Ghalca in this regard. It is important that I clarify Kotoko’s position in this by stating that we have been lucky in our dealings with the NSC staff in Kumasi. We have always had a professional relationship with them and we have been able to sit and negotiate with the NSC representatives with respect to the issuance of complimentary tickets. I understand that in Accra this has not always been the case!
I believe that there is a need for all clubs to maximize revenues and this includes available tickets, which are currently dispensed by bodies other than the clubs. Apparently it is now up to the FA to ensure that there is equity and understanding in this matter!
Kotoko on complimentary tickets and the car park
We all love Kotoko and say that we want to support Kotoko. At present no tickets in the VIP area are sold. They are only given out as complimentaries! The tickets offered as complimentary tickets could earn Kotoko as much as ¢175,000,000 (one hundred and seventy five million cedis only). The car parks and complimentary tickets should be looked at commercially. We will naturally have to cater for our landlords, the owners of the club and past Chairmen etc. but beyond this we have to try to maintain a professional front to enable us to maximize profits.
I have charged George Amoako to put together a programme to ensure that a plan can be considered which will ensure equity and fairness and yet help Kotoko to raise money. He will have to ensure that season tickets are offered in which amounts paid will guarantee stakeholders specific seats. In addition to this the season ticket holders should also be offered specific car parking opportunities. George will be looking into “other” benefits for the ticket holders.
Financial Services and investment in Kotoko
Ever mindful of Otumfuo’s remarks at our recently held congress I have been carefully assessing the options open to Kotoko. We have been approached by both Databank and Sterling Financial Services to assist us in planning for the future. I must admit that at present the presentations made by Sterling Financial Services have warranted a closer scrutiny.
The fact of the matter is that if we are to be in a position to realize our dreams with respect to the creation of professional training facilities and other investments that will allow us to cement our status as the “greatest” then we will have to open our doors to various forms or kinds of investors. We are looking to structure Kotoko in such a way as to allow for investment in the following ways;
• Private placement of monies in Kotoko.
• Limited flotation of shares in Kotoko to supporters (small investors).
• Limited flotation of shares in Kotoko to institutional investors.
• Partnership with specific partners.
All of the above MUST be considered in context of the fact that Kotoko is more than a football team. Institution Kotoko is owned by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. It forms the basis of a cultural and spiritual presence, which manifests itself in the psyche, and lifestyle of supporters, neutrals and those who support other teams. Its head is Otumfuo. The ownership must therefore never change.
I recently had occasion to take a foreign group to meet with Nana and this was reiterated. The process has started and I will keep you all posted with any relevant developments.
Misinformation and the FA
I have been somewhat surprised (although I should not be, given the direction and source) by the attacks on Mr. E.A. Owusu Ansah at the FA. I am surprised because of the myopia and total lack of objectivity in the abusive attacks leveled against him! The accusers even go as far as to suggest that he has been acting in my interest and those of a specific football club.
Even though the accusers have no proof they have seen it fit to make public and libelous statements to support their respective insecurities. With any change there are bound to be people and institutions that used to benefit (often unfairly) from the “old system” that now feel insecure! The change may be political or in football and there is no doubt that these people exist. With respect to the FA I find it interesting that the accusers should expose themselves in the way and manner they have. In all assembling on one FM station to vent their spleen they clearly showed their listeners that they were all of one faith.
The FA in many ways is governed by two groups. The all-powerful Executive Council is manned by Alhaji Ibrahim (of Real Sportive fame) and he reports to his Council. Ghalca and the structures of the FA ensure that the Council is truly representative of all football stakeholders. Indeed I have always been a little peeved by the fact that our representative Kwame Bosompem is not on the Council. I always believed that as the biggest club in the country there was the need for Kotoko to be protected and represented at all levels. We contribute the most significant quota to the FA and therefore we have the right to be concerned. I happen to have confidence (at the moment) in the Executive Council and therefore we have to play by the rules.
The other group is the Management Board. The actions of this Board have to be ratified by the Executive Council. The Management Board is made up of five members. Two are chosen by Ghalca, one is chosen by the Schools, Universities etc. and the last two are chosen by the Minister of Youth and Sports. The current members are as follows;
Management Committee of the FA
Member Selection Body Club Affiliation
E. A. Owusu Ansah Ghalca Kotoko
La Danso Ghalca Hearts
W.K. Agrah FA Gen. Sec. Hearts
Other Significant Appointees
Name Selection Body Club Affiliation Body
Sylvester Mensah Schools etc. Hearts PLB
Fred Pappoe Ghalca Olympics PLB
Edze FA Olympics Disc. Comm
Akwuetteh FA Olympics Appeals Comm
Antwi Gyamfi FA Kotoko Status Comm
If one were to suppose that the above-listed people operated based on their club affiliations then Olympics and Hearts would be having unfair advantages. I do not believe this to be the case and I wish those who have been making the wild attacks would share the same view. I say this for the following reasons;
• I understand that when the Black Stars were preparing for the Nigerian and Congo DR matches under Cecil Jones the entire Hearts of Oak team not only trained with the Black Stars but benefited from the per diem and bonus’ that were paid out.
• Although Tommy Okine received a four-match ban Hearts were never penalized for the violence exhibited after the match with Kotoko. It should be noted that the violence was such that the Hearts management saw it fit to submit a written apology to Kotoko after the fact. It should be noted that Kotoko never filed any official complaint against Hearts (Indeed we also did not file any official complaint against RTU)!
• The Interim Management Committee of the FA headed by Owusu Ansah and including La Danso and Agrah conceded and allowed all Hearts of Oak players to train with the Black Stars even though seven of them were not national players.
• Osam Duodu has called up 10 (ten) Hearts of Oak players for the match against Sierra Leone. The system not only recognizing the importance of their players but wants to work with them!
• Rumour has it that when the PLB were drawing up fixtures for the 2001 season they consulted with some of the Hearts management who believed that given the strength of their squad there would be no need to disrupt the league. They had the belief that even with African commitments the other players in their squad could represent Hearts at local level and still win. With their draw in the Independence Cup and defeat in the Gala finals changes were made to accommodate Hearts.
• The league has been planned in many ways to ensure that Hearts do not and are not inconvenienced by their trip to Europe.
It is important to note that I am NOT criticizing Hearts of Oak. I am simply making it clear that they are continuing to receive “favoured club status” in the new dispensation! They are protected as are all clubs and I would hope that those close to them will see to working with some of us off the field in an attempt to not only professionalise ourselves but to seek ways of reducing costs and increasing revenues. After all as administrators that has to be our bottom line!
Kotoko Sponsorship and Mobitel
I have been asked recently and frequently why Kotoko and Mobitel parted company. The reason is simple. At the end of our contract period both sides felt that they could not reach the kind of commercial positions that would have made an extension tenable and as such Mobitel are no longer sponsors of Kotoko. We did try and offer joint sponsorship options to Mobitel but they were not prepared to share sponsorship with other non-related companies.
Our bottom line was very clear. Given the magnitude of our support and the proven commercial advantages to be gained from associating with Kotoko we believed there was a need for an agreement to be established which reflected this. ¢12.5m a month in cash in 1999 equates to ¢60m a month today. Mobitel were prepared to only go up to ¢15m a month. We believed that with some other clubs receiving substantially more than this and with considerably less exposure being on offer there was a need for Kotoko to look after its interests by looking elsewhere.
The figure of some ¢15m a month would have equated to less than 3% of our yearly budgetary requirements. Indeed in allocating the sponsorship figure to the salaries of the playing, technical (coach not included) and administrative body the figure of ¢15m represents only 30% of what our requirements are.
The point of sponsorship is two-fold. The sponsors have to benefit and the club has to benefit. Clearly the two parties are not satisfied to the point where they wish to continue.
I have to manage and safeguard the interests of Kotoko and I therefore had no option but to look elsewhere once Mobitel had refused to be a co-sponsor. We now have a monthly sponsorship deal that is in operation which yields a monthly benefit to Kotoko of some ¢30m (thirty million cedis)!
We also have a new kit sponsorship deal with Uhlsport. Things change. Last year it was Admiral, this year it is Uhlsport. Who knows whom it will be next year or the year after.
For Kotoko with more than 6 million supporters I have to make sure that the interests of the club are safeguarded.
In the meantime…
I would like to thank Kobina (our Editor) for the work he has doing on my column. Not only has he increased the size of the print (fonts) but he also takes time to properly edit my work. There are times when the written word can be subject to misinterpretation and it is at these times when he makes sure that things are properly outlined! As I have often indicated I often start working on my piece in the early hours of the morning after a long day and I therefore need Kobina’s help.
I am often asked about how I cope with all my different interests and Kotoko as well. Although it is not easy I do cope. I have always been lucky to put together a strong team and this is what is crucial. Kotoko is my priority and which I am involved with on a hands-on basis. It is the biggest task by a long way and has involved the establishment of an acceptable vision, establishment of structures, massive investment, management of the investment, creation of a strong playing body and the laying of the correct foundation for the future. My successor should be able to benefit from a strong club. Of my other businesses I have relinquished interest in M-NET Ghana. I am no longer the country manager. I will still be involved with M-NET but in a totally different capacity. My GM’s and MD’s are still managing my other interests in Europe. Kotoko is a full time job!
I have listened and been somewhat saddened by the attitude of Osam Duodu. He came to Kumasi to introduce himself as National Coach and declared that he would be liaising with Ernst Middendorp with respect to players. He differentiated himself from his predecessor by saying that he would be calling Ernst to ensure that the choice of players was reflected not only in their ability at club level but that he needed to know what role etc the players were being used at Kotoko. Well Osam Duodu never called Ernst! Going onto radio and claiming that he had done the right thing and that Kotoko had not is both offensive and cowardly! Respect is mutual and it is for this reason that I take exception at national coaches who cannot do the right thing and then simply go onto FM stations to justify their own inefficiencies! We are always committed to the national cause but we are naturally concerned because of the fact that the training and preparation is simply not up to our professional standards. As the piper who pays the players we have the right to be concerned!
I am very concerned about the call-up of Kwaku Duah to the national Under-20 team. I say this because I simply do not believe that Afranie is the person to be handling our boys. As evidenced from the return of Stephen Oduro and Lawrence Kainya, the fitness and match preparation regime is antiquated at best and unprofessional at worst. The result being that Stephen has only just returned to the Kotoko “18” and Lawrence has been transfer-listed. Kwaku Duah is one of the finest young talents in the country and his departure from Kotoko at this time will undoubtedly affect his development and place in the Kotoko “18”! I can only hope that with time the FA will appoint coaches who can adhere to the FIFA regulations on the call up of players for national assignment and ensure that tournament preparations are done within the context of those of us who pay and have to maintain the players!
Fabulous, the greatest!