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23.11.2004 Sports News

A case for Olympics, BA and others

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By Richard Avornyotse, GNA Sports Desk

Accra, Nov 23, GNA - Ghanaian premier clubs, through no faults of theirs, were compelled to play a novelty league that saw the country being divided into zones.

The new arrangement was necessitated by lack of time to run and complete a full course league for the 16 clubs, which constitute the professional premier league.

While the status quo meant a two round league, with all the teams playing each other on home and away basis, giving home fans of each club the opportunity to watch their clubs play 15 matches in a season, the new arrangement halved the tally and denied some of the teams the opportunity to play others.

Most of the clubs suffered great financial losses due to the late start of the league because they had to pay wages for players while the league was on ice and there was no income being generated to cushion club expenditure.

Stretched to near bankruptcy and eager to earn something to sustain the upkeep of their players, the clubs accepted to play in the novelty league, which consigned them to their circles of origin; either north or south.

The new arrangement robbed the "national premier league" of a truly national character as clubs in the northern sector competed among themselves under a Zone A designation and their southern counterparts paraded under Zone B.

In this case, the strength and weaknesses of teams could not be measured on a national scale due to the fact that some clubs lost the chance to combat others.

The above argument makes nonsense of the application of any mode of judgement that would warrant the demotion of any of the clubs in a league that was deficient in national character.

In Zone A, Brong Ahafo United placed last and if the unjust would be pursued, the Sunyani club would have to play in the Division One league (DOL) next season, same as Great Olympics who placed eighth in Zone B.

Some people might argue that BA United could have performed better than Sportive, Power or Liberty if they had competed in the same zone and who knows if Olympics could have upstaged Arsenals, Ashantigold, Bofoakwa or Okwawu in the final reckoning if the league had had a national character.

Granted that the arrangement of a zoned league was an ad hoc recipe to fill the record books, particularly in relation to the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) deadline for countries to declare their champions for continental championships, it would be unfair to axe clubs who find themselves in the drop zone.

Relegation must be implemented, if and when all the teams have a level playing field to challenge each other on home and away basis in a truly national league.

Imagine Great Olympics going out of the premiership on 15 points and playoff candidates of Zone A, Okwawu United remaining even though they hauled only seven points in the competition.

That playoff candidates in Zone B, Sekondi Hasacaas collected 16 points, nine clear points ahead of Okwawu but are in the same precarious, lottery match position strengthens my argument that the exercise, if executed, will be a blatant display of injustice that will corrode and scatter the word "Justice," which occupies an important place on our coat of arms.

We must not let rigidity and over reliance on ad hoc formulae and arrangements turn clogs in the wheel of the progress of Ghana football. Let us find alternative solutions to the problem and skip the drop this season, while we expand the league to say, 18 or 20 teams. All we have to do to see an expanded league through is to plan and implement a soccer calendar that will not freeze league action for more that half the year, leading to fire brigade measures that certainly are not the best for our football development.

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