Hearts of Oak slapped with GHc10,000 fine for breaching sponsorship rights
Accra Hearts of Oak SC has been fined an amount GHc10,000(GHc5000 suspended) for breaching the GFA's sponsorship agreement with NASCO after their Ghana Premier League match against Liberty Professionals played in Accra.
The Phobians were charged with breaching Articles 82(1) and 82(4) of the Second Amendment of the GFA Statutes in respect of this match.
Below is the full ruling of the Disciplinary Committee
Particulars of the Offence That Accra Hearts of Oak SC, knowing that the GFA has instituted a Player of the Match, Coach of the Month and Player of the Month awards sponsored by NASCO phones exclusively for the Ghana Premier League after the Ghana Football Association had signed an agreement with the Sponsor, you, Accra Hearts of Oak SC deliberately and without the GFA's consent and concurrence, used the Ghana Premier League match organised by the GFA to do a presentation of a phone from a competitor of NASCO, as your club Player of the Match, thereby putting the GFA at risk of breaching its agreement with NASCO in violation of the GFA Statutes.
DEFENCE Accra Hearts of Oak SC, in the club's response signed Hackman Aidoo (the Account/Adm. Manager), pleaded not guilty to the charge and opted for personal hearing.
The club attended the meeting of the Committee on Friday, June 9, 2017. 2 PROCEEDINGS AND FINDINGS The Committee examined the depositions in the Charge Sheet, the evidence of the GFA Prosecutor and the Oral Submissions made by the club in its defence.
In its defence, the club explained as follows: The club explained that the club was not aware of the product range of NASCO and that the club was also not aware of the terms and conditions of the Agreement between NASCO and the GFA.
The Committee took note of the explanations from the club. However, upon further probing by the Committee, the club changed its plea from not guilty to guilty and also, pleaded for leniency. The Committee therefore, found Accra Hearts of Oak SC guilty on the club's own plea. The Disciplinary Committee is satisfied with the evidence before it that the conduct of Accra Hearts of Oak SC as set out in the Particulars of Offence, amounts to a gross breach of the GFA Statutes and shall accordingly apply the necessary sanctions against the club.
A member of the GFA, such as Accra Hearts of Oak SC, has a responsibility under the GFA Statutes to police the marketing rights of the Association. This obligation makes the actions of Accra Hearts of Oak SC, to wit, cannibalising the Player of the Match naming rights granted to NASCO by the GFA even more disturbing.
The Committee particularly, takes a stern view of the conduct of Accra Hearts of Oak as the oldest club in the Premier League is expected to aspire to higher ethics in its dealings and to protect the integrity of the Premier League in a manner which will be exemplary to all and sundry.
In determining this matter, the Committee shall apply the very regulations that the clubs themselves passed at GFA Congress. The regulations concerning this matter are very clear and unambiguous. Article 82(1) of the GFA Statutes (as amended) states as follows: 'The ownership, organisation, control and management of all the competitions of the GFA and any rights associated with them of any nature shall be vested entirely and exclusively in Ghana Football Association (the 'GFA')'. Article 82(3)(4) of the GFA Statutes (as amended) states as follows: 'In relation to each match, the GFA shall be exclusively entitled, either by itself or to authorise others, to use sell or otherwise exploit all commercial and other marketing rights associated with its competitions including, without limitation, fixture list copyright, sponsorship, supplier rights, licences, perimeter board branding or other commercial arrangements (the 'Marketing Rights')'. Article 82(4) of the GFA Statutes (as amended) states as follows: 'Clubs shall comply with the terms of all contracts entered into by the GFA from time to time in relation to Access Rights, the Television Rights, the Radio Rights, the Footage Rights and the Marketing Rights (collectively the 'Commercial Contracts') in relation to the any GFA competition'. 3 Every stakeholder in the football industry was put on notice once the GFA announced to the world at large, NASCO as the exclusive sponsor of the Man of the Match, Coach of the Month and Player of the Month awards for all Ghana Premier League matches. Accra Hearts of Oak SC cannot thus, feign ignorance of NASCO's exclusive rights to the naming and honouring the best player of every premier league match organised by the GFA in a brief ceremony after the match concerned; neither can the club purport to assign those rights to a rival sponsor without the consent and concurrence of the GFA. The Committee noted that even Accra Hearts of Oak players have won a number of the NASCO phones since the award was announced.
From the foregoing, the Committee finds most disingenuous the attempt by Accra Hearts of Oak to suggest that it had only selected the most outstanding player of its team for a special award when indeed, it was egregiously infringing the exclusive right of NASCO as the club settled on the same player selected by the GFA as the Man of the Match.
The official club newspaper, Hearts News and official verified twitter account of the club clearly stated that the award given by Accra Hearts of Oak SC to the player with the competitor phone was for 'Man of the Match'.
Secondly, Accra Hearts of Oak SC had no right whatsoever to organise a ceremony for the presentation of the award for Man of the Match at a Ghana Premier League match without consent and concurrence of the GFA, the owner and organiser of the premier league.
To add salt to the injury caused, Accra Hearts of Oak SC took the very Player of the Match (Leonard Tawiah) as selected by the GFA and presented him with a mobile phone from NASCO's competitor, took photographs of the presentation and posted same on social media.
Clubs and third parties must note that the use of fixtures and match results of any GFA competition requires permission from the GFA and that a waiver or the failure of the GFA to act does not give rights to any party or club to abuse the GFA Marketing Rights. It must be noted that any abuse of the rights shall be punished. Accra Hearts of Oak SC shall not be allowed to take the Sponsors for granted and all abuse of sponsors' rights shall accordingly be severely punished to serve as deterrent to all other clubs.
The Committee however, is very mindful of the club's plea for leniency.
The Disciplinary Committee upon considering the plea for leniency by Accra Hearts of Oak SC, makes following decisions:
1. That the Committee having satisfied itself that the evidence adduced before it supports the charge against the club, hereby imposes a fine of Ten Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢10,000.00) on Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club in accordance with Article 39(1)(b) of the GFA General Regulations, half of which fine is hereby suspend. 4
2. That the amount of Five Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢5,000.00) in Decision 1 herein shall be payable by Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club to the GFA within fourteen (14) days upon receipt of this Ruling, failing which Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club shall forfeit the club's matches after the said deadline in accordance with Articles 39(8)(b) and 39(8)(d) of the First Amendment to the GFA General Regulations.
3. That Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club is hereby warned to be of good behaviour and that should the club be found guilty of any misconduct charge on GFA marketing rights, the Disciplinary Committee shall recall the suspended portion of the fine in Decision 1 above in addition to any other sanction to be imposed against the club.
4. That should any party be dissatisfied with or aggrieved by this Decision, the party has within three (3) days of being notified of this Ruling to appeal to the Appeals Committee (See Article 37(11) of the General Regulations of the GFA).
Signed: Prosper Harrison Addo, Esq. Chairman, Disciplinary Committee (A) Tuesday, June 13, 2017
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