The Ghana Premier League is considered one of the few professional leagues on the continent. It can even rub shoulders with some leagues in other parts of the world. As a result, several footballing eyes will turn to the country with the start of the Glo Premier League. But over the years, ‘board room’ disciplinary decisions has taken the beauty out of the game as some clubs have had to be relegated because their points were docked due to one misappropriation or the other. Others have also gained points they did not sweat for. Undoubtedly, one of the banes of the league has been clash in jerseys. The situation dragged many teams to the ‘board room’ last season. For example, we were all privy to what transpired at the Berekum Golden City Park, where a match between Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Berekum Arsenal could not be honoured because of a supposed clash in jerseys. Indeed, at the highest level of football, the governing body, FIFA, requires teams(national ones in this case) to register at least two strips. One with a relatively deep colour and one with a light colour without recourse to which one the team chooses as their first or second or even third jerseys. However, if you are playing at home, FIFA requires that you select your first-choice jersey upon which your opponents look to make their choices out of their registered strips. With respect to clubs, most major leagues allow the registration of three sets of jerseys. I do not know what pertains in the Ghanaian Premier League because no one seems to know when you approach organizers to ask them. Asante Kotoko and Berekum Arsenal had to force the Premier League Board to organize a replay based on advice given it by the Disciplinary Committee. But I sincerely wish that issues regarding clash of strips become a thing of the past.
I watched the first match of the Glo Premier League on October 8 when Accra Hearts of Oak played against Berekum Arsenal at the Cape Coast Robert Mensah Stadium. I was dumbstruck to see the jersey spotted by players of Berekum Arsenal, who were apparently playing home as a result of a ban they were serving. They were in English Premier League side Arsenal’s jerseys. There is no problem with that. Of course, a club that professes to play like its role model in a superior league can choose to wear its jerseys. However, this cannot be done to the extent of having the model club’s sponsors on their strips. I won’t mince words at all but to state categorically that it is demeaning of the Ghanaian Premier League, football administrators, football fans, the league sponsors and Berekum Arsenal themselves to spot an Arsenal jersey with “Fly Emirates” boldly embossed in front. I stand to be corrected but I don’t think Berekum Arsenal has any contract with Emirates. If they do, then thumbs up to the club’s administrators for securing such a lucrative package. Spotting everything Arsenal including the ”Fly Emirates” is like telling Ghanaians, the Golden City Park is Emirates Stadium or Coach Johnson Smith is Arsene Wenger. I don’t think the people of Berekum will allow a change of their stadium’s name to Emirates Stadium without any reflection in their pockets or lives.
I am surprised officials in Arsenal have not watched the jerseys spotted by players of Berekum Chelsea, who share the Golden City Park with them. Though Chelsea’s jerseys are the same as the Adidas strip Chelsea of England wears, it has not the “Samsung” in front. Even the Blues of Ghana football, Wa All Stars also wear a similar jersey like that of the Blues of English football but do not have the “Samsung” in front. That should let you know the kind of business acumen within those two clubs. My suggestion to Berekum Arsenal is that if they don’t want to have their front bare, as it were, they should fling it to corporate Ghana to fight over. Otherwise, having “Fly Emirates” in front of their strips is a blot on the escutcheons of all including us international journalists, who have friends monitoring the league.
Hearts of Oak has come of age!
Still from that opening match at the Robert Mensah Stadium, I was impressed with the strips flaunted by Accra Hearts of Oak. I was watching the match with an elderly man, who has followed football for long, and so I asked him whether Hearts’ jerseys was of a kind they were wearing in the olden days. His answer, which was in the affirmative, suggested to me that Hearts of Oak is indeed sending signals that they have come of age. This is not the first time I am mentioning this but I think Hearts of Oak is ready to be called a centenarian club though they lack some facilities. The elderly man even told me you would not have seen the diagonal tricolor stripe as a result of the piebald television sets in use those days. At a press conference to launch the Jama 11, I made the observation to officials of Accra Hearts of Oak that in a year they will be turning 100 it should be made conspicuous in every activity of the club. So I suggested that the centenary logo should always be the first at any ceremony of the club. I am happy they took that in good faith and even extended it to the strips they are using this year. Thumbs up, Phobia-e!!
Strips of ball boys
Back to my clash in jerseys, it so seems the ball boys and the referees also fall short of this. The Premier League Board should not lose sight of a possible clash in the strips of the ball boys on one hand and the players on the pitch on the other. It behoves on the PLB to make sure the strips of the ball boys do not clash with any of the players’ jerseys. During the Asante Kotoko match with Tema Youth at the Tema Sports Stadium, the strips of the ball boys – white – was clashing with that of Tema Youth. In any serious professional league this anomaly will be corrected.
I also realized the referees had their strips clashing with that of the Tema Youth goalkeeper. I believe the referees have three strips – black, red and lemon green – and so should select those jerseys having taken into consideration what the respective teams will be wearing on the mandatory pre-match conference.
With the league just cranking up, my hope is that it flows so journalists like us will not be kept in the dark as to who league champions and relegated teams are. For once, let us allow the league to flow!!!