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02.06.2007 Football News

Phone Companies Battle For Premiership

The battle for supremacy by cellular phone companies in Ghana appears certain to rage fiercely on the football pitch as they strive to get hold of the game.

Onetouch, the cellular branch of Ghana Telecom, the national telecommunications giant, is striving to retain its position as the sponsor of the Premier League as it battles a seeming challenge from its strongest rival, Areeba, soon to be known as MTN-Areeba.

After losing out to its rival, Globacom, in the sponsorship of the Nigeria Premier League, MTN which has taken over local Areeba is reportedly making a bid for the Ghana league. It is believed there is even a third competitor in the picture.

Graphic Sports investigations have learned that Globacom, which announced its presence in Ghana during last March's CAF Awards, is also making moves to take over the local premiership.

Though all these remain rumours without any official document to subtantiate them, Onetouch is determined not to be taken unawares and has thus moved to consolidate their position.

Today the company, which came to the rescue of the Premier League when all others shied away, begins talks with the Ghana Football Association (GFA) for negotiations for the 2007-2008 season.

And while it is too early to determine what the outcome of these talks would be, officials of Onetouch are confident they will still be the partners when the season resumes in July.

In an interview with the Graphic Sports yesterday, Mr Stephen Kofi Badu, Marketing Manager for Onetouch, said the company's package was not only for the Premiership, but the new deal will look at the further development and promotion of Ghana football in its totality.

“In addition to the Premiership, we are considering the Women's League. We believe that we have come to a point where our commitment to Ghana football must be all-embracing,” Mr Badu said.

Mr Badu said while it would be no news to continue supporting the Premiership, Ghana Telecom felt it was its corporate responsibility as a true Ghanaian company to support women's football and other FA competitions which further enhance the development and promotion of the game.

“Women's football has been our baby right from the start, having nurtured it at the grassroot by forming teams in all the 10 regions, as well as contributing the chunk of players to the national team. We believe it is not out of place to support the GFA to run its Women's League as it plans to do from July,” Mr Badu stressed.

He said the fact that it came to the rescue of the Premier League two years ago when all others had turned their back on it was enough proof of Onetouch's commitment to the game and it can only play a better role in sustaining the gains made so far.

'Our commitment to Ghana sports is unquestionable. We have supported various sports programmes and events in the country including the prestigious SWAG Awards that honour our illustrous sportsmen and sportswomen who excel in their field.

“And our commitment to football is even stronger because the sport is the heart, soul and passion of the nation, and we can only support our countrymen to fully enjoy what truly gives them joy and happiness.

“After two years of building a healthy consistent relationship, we can only look forward to strengthening that relationship with Ghana football, and that is what we are seeking to do with the talks and hopefully it will end very well,” Mr Badu said.

While it was too early to indicate what amount Onetouch was going to put on the table as its bargaining strength, Mr Badu indicated that it was going to be a vast improvement over the ¢5 billion they pumped into last year's league.

Officials at the GFA would not confirm or deny the speculations of other competitors joining in the bid, but an insider said it was welcome as that showed a vote of confidence in the local game which was on a steady rise.

But as to how it plays out, it is too early to say but at the end Ghana football will be the richer party.

Story by Rosalind Amoh

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