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02.07.2004 Football News

League Over Till Sept

By Michael Quaye for Graphic
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The battered Premier League faces further problems as the Black Meteors are to leave for a month's training tour of Portugal ahead of their participation in the Athens Olympics.

The Ghanaian Olympic team is billed to leave for Portugal on July 7 to prepare for the Olympic Games. Football competition at the Games will run between August 11 and 29.

Under the prevailing conditions, organisers of the league have tied the resumption of the competition to the progress of the Meteors at the Olympics.

Consequently, the clubs, through their parent body, GHALCA, have made monetary demands on the sector ministry through the the Professional League Board (PLB), organisers of the league, and the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to ease their financial burden by way of salaries during the period of non-competition.

The PLB, in consultation with the GFA, suspended the league “to enable the Black Stars and Black Meteors prepare adequately for their impending international assignments”.But the decision has heightened uncertainty over the competition.

Mr W. Abra-Appiah, Chairman of the PLB, told the Graphic Sports that his outfit took the decision in view of the prevailing conditions that have pressed the local programmes against international engagements.

“While the Black Stars' World Cup qualifiers remain important to the nation, we were also confronted by the duty of supervising a complete programme for the league.” That duty, however, remains an undignified one as the halt dealt the well-delayed league its latest blow.

“We had no other choice than to suspend the league and allow the international programmes to ease up before a re-start.”The league has travelled just three games for each team, the last games played on Sunday, June 13.

With the possibility of the Meteors reaching the final at the Olympics, Mr Abra-Appiah said the league then can only resume in September.The league will then have to be played at weekends and during midweek in order to meet the deadline for submission of names for CAF club competitions, according to Mr Abra-Appiah.

The Meteors are dominated by home-based players, with some local clubs contributing at least three players each. Asante Kotoko supply goalkeeper Mohammed Alhassan, Charles Taylor, Yusif Chibsah and Edmund Owusu Ansah, while Abubakar Yahuza, Eric Gawu, Abass Inusah, Illiasu Alhassan, Prince Antwi, Idrisu Yahaya and Habib Mohammed are contributions from King Faisal.

Article 13A of the GFA regulations allows clubs to ask for postponement of their games if they contribute more than two players at a time to national teams. In view of this, Mr Abra-Appiah asked: “Of what use will it be to play some games and postpone others, when you will later have to wait for the postponed games to be cleared before continuing with the programmes?”

Ahead of the Black Stars' World Cup qualifier against South Africa, the PLB sought to postpone the third week league games but faced a strong challenge from the Ghana League Clubs Association (GHALCA), who own the clubs and pay salaries of players, even during months of non-competition.

But Mr J. Y. Appiah, Chairman of GHALCA, maintained that “the PLB runs the league and has decided to suspend it. We can't do otherwise, after the PLB announced its decision”.Mr Abra-Apiah insisted, however, that even if the league resumes in September the PLB will be able to run through the remaining games on schedule.