Kwesi Nyantakyi’s reign as President of the Ghana Football Association has not been a smooth sailing so far.
Mr. Nyantakyi has done the country’s football a great deal of good, especially during his first tenure in office. Among other things, it was under his stewardship that the Senior National Soccer Team, the Black Stars, qualified for its first World Cup in 2006 and, subsequently in 2010 and 2014. The national U-20 team also became the first team outside South America to lift the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2009.
However, his reign has witnessed a constant decline in league football in the country. So Mr. Nyantakyi’s claim that the domestic league is one of the best ran on the continent simply cannot hold.
“In the area of the league, it’s not been as bad as some people want us to believe. It is one of the best organised and most competitive leagues in Africa,” he recently told Ghanasoccernet.com.
“What we probably didn’t do well is raising sponsorships to support the running of clubs. It hasn’t been easy at all because corporate organizations have their agenda, their aims, their objectives etc. but we’re not relenting in our efforts to get sponsors and we are sure in 2018 we shall succeed in getting sponsors,” he added.
Sponsorship is usually the reward for a professionally run league and since professionalism is not an adjective fit enough for our league yet, it is not surprising that potential sponsors have effectively kept the FA at arm’s length.
A league where its best players leave for abroad, year-in, year-out to pursue their careers in countries like Tanzania, Kuwait, and other less developed football leagues, with all respect, speaks of how low the standards have fallen.
The domestic league has suffered many setbacks during his administration, partly due to over concentration on the Black Stars.
A league where the prize money – a paltry US$30,000 for the winner has remained the same for the past two seasons is certainly not ideal, where clubs can’t afford to pay players, where there is an unpredictable timetable, where footballers depend on the benevolence of people to survive can’t be regarded among the best ran in Africa.
Despite the clear fall in quality and standards, Mr. Nyantakyi says: “On a scale of ten, I will rate it six out of ten. It’s been good but not very good or excellent,”
One of the yardsticks for measuring the competitiveness of a league is to compare the performance of its teams against teams from other leagues in continental competitions like the CAF Champions League and Super Cup.
In the last decade, no Ghanaian club has made it to the semi-finals stage of any of these competitions. The country’s last meaningful success in African club football came in 2000, when Accra Hearts Oak lifted the Champions League at the expense of Esperance of Tunisia.
Mr. Nyantakyi who holds several other positions, including being CAF Vice President, West Africa Football Union President, as well as a member of FIFA’s Council, could have save himself some blushes by calling a spade a spade.
It is no news that the standards of the Ghana Premier League is at an all-time low, some 13 years after Mr. Nyantakyi ascended the throne as President of the FA.
Over the three seasons alone, several avoidable legal suits, caused by the FA’s own mistakes, have denied the league of a predictable schedule.
In the 2014/2015 season, Alhaji Grunsah’s King Faisal took the league to court challenging his team’s relegation from the league after the 2013/14 season, which protracted the start to that season by several months.
In the ensuing season, another law suit was again brought against the league as Dreams FC’s promotion to the top-flight was challenged, leading to another delay to the start of the season two years ago.
All these are issues that the FA, led Mr. Nyantakyi, who has a background in law, could have avoided with due diligence.
Another sign which indicates how low the quality of the league has dipped is the failure of the local Black Stars to qualify for this year’s CHAN championship, after they were eliminated by Burkina Faso.
Today, domestic based players have been effectively phased out of the Black Stars simply because the standards here are not up to scratch.
Currently, most Ghanaians are unhappy with the standards of competition and prefer to stay home and follow foreign leagues games during the weekend, rather than going to watch league games at the various stadia.
The most watched leagues in the world have an all set and upfront league schedule that enables teams to prepare adeptly. And I don’t want to believe that Mr. Nyantakyi and his charges are unaware of how other leagues plan their schedule.
The quality of football in the domestic league have obviously been on a decline for some time now and more needs to be done by Mr. Nyantakyi’s administration to revive Ghana football.