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09.05.2003 Sports News

May the league run in peace, not in pieces

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The thrills and spills inherent in association football will be back to all, the league centres when the tenth edition of the national premier league gets underway this weekend.

It is needless to say that the competition is starting way behind schedule because of circumstances that could have been avoided through respect for one another, in depth consultation, dialogue and persuasion.

There is no need crying over spilt milk as the protracted agitation and legal tussle, which culminated in the delay have had their toll on premiership teams as well as the Division One League (DOL) campaigners.

In the end, Kpando Hearts of Lions and Dansoman Stay Cool survived the 'incomplete first division league' to book their places in the premiership.

Maybe, if the first division league had travelled its full course with teams honouring home and away fixtures, the Lions would have widened their gap and qualified much easier or other teams would have challenged more ferociously than they did.

Maybe Midtjiland, Mighty Royals, Volta Warriors, Salgado, Olympiakos or Vipers or any other team from the DOL could have qualified to play in the sub-middle and or the middle league.

Having made that point clear, it is imperative to say that the arrival of the "Akpini Lions" has given the national premiership a wider geographical spread as the Volta Region is now adequately represented while Stay Cool has saturated representation in the capital, raising the number of clubs to four against a single venue, the Accra Sports Stadium.

Though the late start of the programme may have affected some of the clubs adversely, it could be a blessing to others who might have used the long break to prepare very well for the incoming season.

New entrants Hearts of Lions and Stay Cool could be the worst affected as they have just concluded a rigorous middle league which came at the heels of a sub-middle league which was equally stressful and devastating.

Pre season favourites, Asante Kotoko appear to have been the best beneficiary of the delay. New coach Abdul Razak has had time to blend his team, which is showing great form and Emmanuel Afranie at Great Olympics has had enough time to sieve and replenish his team in readiness for the premiership.

Dread locked Nana Agyemang at Okwawu United has started talking big, making everybody believe that he has transformed his team into a championship class and Ken Augustt has had enough time to prepare Power for their playoff which they won against Cape Coast Dwarfs. And what about the courtship and marriage between Alhaji Karim Grunsah and Hebert Mensah at Kumasi King Faisal!

Despite the advantages and or disadvantages that might have robbed on the 16 clubs due to the late start of the premier league, it is hoped that they would all be game and sporting enough to make the competition a success.

In doing so, the clubs must ensure that that their supporters are properly educated about the rules so that they would uphold the decisions of referees and their assistants and avert unnecessary complains and reactions, which might lead to crowd misconduct.

It is exactly two years since 127 able bodied Ghanaians died in a stampede at the Accra Sports Stadium and it behoves on everybody to abhor and detest violence at sporting events to avoid a recurrence of such a tragedy. Let us ensure that the events of May 9, 2001 never happen again on our sporting calendar.

Club officials must ensure that they do not apportion blame unnecessarily to match officials as such behaviour infuriates and instigates supporters covertly or overtly.

Teams, must as a matter of principle denounce corruption and refuse to tempt referees with offers that would make them influence the result of matches they handle and referees must have the moral courage to refuse offers. They must also be bold enough to report any team official who proposes or offers a bribe.

It is hoped that those who have found themselves at the helm of affairs in today's football administration must be mindful of the fact that others had come before them and others would come after them and that their performance would be judged by history and posterity.

They must not loaf and pretend to be overburdened with work when indeed their productivity does not reflect that. They must be objective in their decisions and must not show an iota of bias against any club, no matter where it comes from. They must be bold to accept responsibility for the actions they take, no matter the consequences, instead of finding scapegoats.

When it comes to adjudicating on matters between clubs, they must be firm and fair and ensure that the rules have ONLY ONE interpretation.

Our sports administrators must plan well to ensure that the league is not unnecessarily halted for one spurious reason or the other.

The leagues must run their full courses without too many postponements and the fans must ensure that our leagues are played in peace. Keep shooting.

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