One of the major topics being discussed in recent days are the poor attendance at our various stadia during Ghana Premier League Matches. Whilst connoisseurs are attributing the development to the current economic condition prevailing in the country, others also think player exodus is to blame.
There are still others who argue that the poor nature of our pitches and the resultant sub-standard football being exhibited by the players is not attracting the fans to the stadia. In our view, all the arguments being advanced are genuine, but the player exodus is the major factor.
Due to poor remuneration, our premier league players are always interested in plying their trade outside the country. Some even go to the extent of playing professional football in Vietnam and Malaysia. The development is, therefore, making it impossible for the premier league clubs to retain their star players, who will attract the supporters to the stadia.
From the 1990s up to the mid-2000s, our stadia were always full of supporters because there were star players like Shamo Quaye and Joe Debrah among others to watch. But today, the situation is not the same – because all the quality players have left to seek for greener pastures outside the shores of the country.
It is, therefore, not surprising that our local teams are unable to compete well in Africa club competitions in recent years. Since Accra Hearts of Oak won the Champion League in 2000, no Ghanaian club has made it even to the semi-final stage of the competition. This is also having a cascading effect on development of football in the country. To help reverse the trend, it is our contention that the government of Ghana has a role to play.
Since football is one of the avenues used in solving youth unemployment all over the world, it will be dangerous for the government to distance herself from the promotion of the game in the country. In fact, we will be doing so at the peril of our lives.
The Chronicle, therefore, suggests to the government to sit down with the premier league clubs and cap the number of players each club can employ to say 28. The government will then come in and pay these players every month, including their Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributions.
We further suggest that each player should not be paid less than GHS5,000 from the government Consolidated Fund to make it attractive to retain some of the star players in the domestic league. Since the government is going take over the burden of paying the players and their SSNIT contributions, the caveat must be that 10% of each player’s transfer, whether domestic or foreign, should be paid into an escrow account that will be opened by the government.
We believe that after the scheme has been run for five up to ten years, enough money (ten percent of each player transferred) would have been saved in the escrow account, which will then serve as a source of inflow to continuously pay the players, without resorting to the public accounts anymore.
No country in Africa may have piloted this, but we believe it is a good business module, which if well planned and implemented, can help us to develop our football. Someone may argue that football is a private business, so why should government be using public funds to finance it.
But what we should not gloss over is the fact that the issue of youth unemployment and the concomitant effect it could have on this country is dire. Also, per the suggestion we are making, a time will come when the government will no more be drawing money from the consolidated fund to pay the players.
The 10% transfer fee paid into the escrow account will definitely grow to a level where all the registered players can be paid each month without any hassle. We, as a country, are always talking about how our national game is falling below standards, but we are not coming out with innovative ideas on how to deal with the problem.
It is, therefore, our hope that the suggestion we have made will be seriously considered by the government, since they always bear the brunt anytime our teams fail to perform well in competitions outside the country.
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