Written By Frank Owusu Ansah "Franco Naro " - The free fall of Kumasi Asante Kotoko, especially this season has generated a lot of concern – 16th on the league table – they are at their absolute worst position after six matches in the Ghanaian top-flight league and the alarming fall of Ghana’s most successful football club has been a major distress for the fans of the club. I am of great conviction that the current situation of the club is as a result of the incompetence of the people at the helm of affairs – THE BOARD AND MANAGEMENT. Below are thirty (30) reasons why the club finds itself in this unfortunate situation and as such, THE BOARD AND MANAGEMENT should sack themselves immediately.
1. Lack of well-defined structures put in place by the board. First of all, In 2013 the owner of the club Otumfuo Osei Tutu II appointed this current board made up of ten members and later asked the board to work with Opoku Nti. The board was to examine if indeed he would be able to run the club in an expected manner or go on to find even a better person with the needed managerial expertise to run the club . For two seasons the Board could not appoint a substantive CEO to lead the management of the club. The ten members were legal practitioner Paul Adu Gyamfi, (Chairman), Jude Arthur, Joe Gyekye, Baffour Kwame Kusi Ababio, Samuel Osei Kuffour, Nana Kwado Gyasi, Kabral Blay Amihere, Kofi Dua Adonteng, Frank Appiagyei and Benard Akwasi Xiel, who was later replaced by Kwaku Amponsah.
One principal function of the board was to put up a well-defined organogram for the club – proper structures but for two seasons the Paul Adu Gyamfi-led board were unable to confirm a general manager for Asante Kotoko as Opoku Nti was only confirmed last season. This failure would even result in a power struggle as to who was the PLB representative of the club. When board member Frank Apeagyei publicly elected himself as the PLB rep of Kotoko while the management had their choice in Edmund Ackah – that portfolio would subsequently be occupied by Duah Adonteng who was chosen by the board to represent the Porcupine Warriors at the PLB level. At present, there are just two committed members of the board who are always available – Paul Adu Gyamfi, the chairman and Kwaku Amponsah, the circles representative. Other members rarely attend meetings. Simply, there is no blueprint for Asante Kotoko.
2. Inability to sustain and renew contracts of inherited club sponsors. When the erstwhile KK Sarpong management left office, it left behind thirteen top sponsors it had brought on board. Interplast, UBI petroleum, IEA, Kinapharma Ltd, Latex Foam, Afrian Origin, Budget Cash and Carry, Everpure, RLG, Mama Vits, Smart TV, Fidelity Bank. Today, it’s regrettable to know that most of these sponsors are no more with the club. It is true that the current board and management have also signed deals with the likes of Superbet, Herbalife, Africola, Living Bread and Mafro. But they lost most of the previous because management could not handle them well.
3. Failure to maintain and improve upon inherited property. Again, the current leaders of the club have been very irresponsible, as the state of the major assets of the club they inherited has been deplorable, to say the least. The buses are in bad conditions. The K. K. Sarpong’s era left behind six cars for the current board and the Opoku Nti -led management – but day after day these properties are deteriorating. Look at the sorry state of the Adako Jachie training facility now – one pitch is no more functional, water system at the training grounds has broken down, not a single block has been added to the building they inherited. Everything is in absolute mess.
4. Consistent failure in Africa. The club has been eliminated by relatively unknown clubs in Africa twice in the row against BYC of Liberia and MC Eulma of Algeria in 2014 and 2015 respectively. To make things worse, the club known to be a giant in African football could not even qualify for an African spot in this current season. Against Eulma, it was even more heartbreaking as Kotoko lost at home to the North Africans after a drawn away game.
5. Public deceit. The Opoku Nti management publicly declared at a press conference that player exodus at Kotoko will never happen during his era. Surprisingly this phenomenon has been more rampant in this era than ever. Players have come and gone (some, under bizarre circumstances) and this has contributed to Kotoko’s woes especially in Africa. Just to mention few of them; Seidu Bancy, Yaya Mohammed, Abdul Aziz, Emmanuel Clottey, Ahmed Toure, Soulama Abdoulaye, Augustine Ocrah, Jordan Opoku, Micheal Akuffo, Kwabena Adusei, Kofi Nti Boakye, Micheal Helegbe, Joseph Addo, Prince Baffoe, Richard Mpong, etc.
6. Inability to claim money due Asante Kotoko. DR. K.K Sarpong and his team handed over very comprehensive handing over notes to the incoming administration. That administration won cases against foreign clubs at FIFA and that Kotoko were due several thousands of dollars. The players involved were Nathaniel Asamoah, Alex Asamoah, Jordan Opoku, Samuel Inkoom, etc. With the exception of Nathaniel Asamoah’s money from Serbia, they have failed to collect the club’s share of the transfer fees of several players the club sold. MTN sponsorship with Kotoko stipulates that GHC150 000 should be paid to Kotoko for the development of Adako Jachie project and for two years the board and the management failed to satisfy the necessary formalities to access the money making the club lose a whooping GHC300 000 . Again, the supporters’ mobilization money has always been a difficulty to access despite the contractual backing of it. The last time the supporters were able to access this amount (GHC50 000) was during the KK Sarpong era. Under this current management – that amount has not been accessed from MTN for two years running. Budget Cash and Carry (Blue Jeans) per their sponsorship contract with Asante Kotoko, were to construct Astro-turf for Kotoko. But this management has shown no interest.
7. Improper handling of the youth team. The players and technical team members of the youth teams are almost neglected. Investigation should be conducted into the kind of contract the team/management members have with the boys.
8. Poor organization of the 80th anniversary of the club. There was no proper plan for the organization of the 80th anniversary of the club;-No proper publicity of the anniversary; no paraphernalia made for the anniversary, Legends of the club were not informed about the event and so on and so on. The international friendly match meant to climax the anniversary which should have taken place in 2015 was eventually played in January 2016 due to the uncertainties that surrounded the game organized by Pacific Football Ghana Limited. At first, it was FC Petrolul, and then Veria FC and eventually a quasi Jagodina side showed up. In the end it was an anniversary to regret since the Serbian side FK Jagodina came without any top official of the club - the CEO, his assistant, team manager, team doctor, goal keepers’ trainer, etc. were all absent. In fact the said Jagodina team came with only 12 players. Local players, notably Techiman City FC players were added to the said Jagodina FC team with one B. A. Yaya as their team manager. Insults, humiliation and anger were the portion of Kotoko fans.
9. Causing financial loss to the club. This administration has been fined more than any other club within the period of their stewardship. Some of the reasons for their sanction were just shameful. For example, quoting a repealed regulation in a protest against Berekum Chelsea.
10. Lack of due diligence in the signing of Emmanuel Clottey. The signing of Clottey nearly put the club in a precarious situation. He was still under contract with Esperance de Tunis when Kotoko announced signing him and even used him in a game against Berekum Chelsea. Clottey will later leave the club following FIFA’s sanction on him to pay some over 100 000 USD to Esperance for breach of contract. So Kotoko lost money and other resources as a result of this unfortunate deal.
11. Current management benefiting from the club instead of the club benefiting from them. The current officials are benefiting from the club, enriching themselves while they have put in very little effort to change the fortunes of the club under their watch. From the days of Yaw Bawuah, Herbet Mensah, S. S. Appiah, George Adusei Poku (Georgido), KK Sarpong and co, none of these former leaders of the club were put on salaries but Opoku Nti takes monthly salary. He takes per diem when the team travels just as the players but the club keeps on sinking in terms of finance and performance.
12. Use of non-Kotoko players in a FIFA tournament. Under this regime, non-Kotoko players were gathered by Kotoko officials and masqueraded as true Kotoko players for a FIFA invited tournament in Switzerland (Blue Stars FIFA Youth Championship) while the club had its own U20 side which could have entirely made the trip but due to the parochial interest of the current managers they decided to use players from other clubs. Shameful. Isn’t it?
13. Poor branding of Asante Kotoko. Today Kotoko is not among the leading football brands in the country. Last season Kotoko’s jerseys were without printed names of the players while other smaller clubs looked very attractive and well branded with their team attires. Again, Kotoko had to use Puma jackets given to them by the GFA for their African campaign – something the club should be able to provide for the team. The Adako Jachie training facility is fast deteriorating. These make the club unattractive to investors and sponsors and fend them away.
14. The Tadoma Hotel disaster in August 2015. The management’s choice of the Tadoma hotel at Taifa, Accra as lodgment for the Kotoko team ahead of the Hearts of Oak game was appalling as the standard of the hotel does not merit the club. This would lead to a robbery attack on the team on the eve of the Hearts of Oak game with valuable items and some money looted by the gunmen. Kotoko has class and deserves better.
15. Wrongful dismissal of Didi Dramani. The manner in which Didi Dramani was sacked was not the best – seven games into the 2015 season and the club had to cough up a huge compensation package for the coach. Dramani had won two league titles including a double in the 2013/14 season. Interestingly he was asked to proceed on leave before his eventual dismissal.
16. Poor player welfare. The welfare of Kotoko players in the past few years has suffered a massive neglect. When Kofi Manu – now team manager of Techiman City – alleged that Kotoko players were obsessed with pornography – that statement was not only insulting and damaging to the reputation and confidence of the players, but Kotoko as a whole. Surprisingly, no Kotoko official condemned that claim by the astute football administrator, let alone asks him to retract and apologize. Just recently in an FA Cup game against AK Shion in Sunyani – Kotoko players were given GHC 5.00 each for breakfast and each player had to buy whatever food they liked – something which never happens at serious clubs. Players who pick up injuries while playing for the club have no option than to treat themselves. During KK Sarpong’s reign, the players had breakfast every morning but this has ceased today.
17. Problems with Sons of Asante Kotoko. This current management picks a bone with almost every respected and loyal son of the club. Some of whom are past players and management members and benefactors of the club. Members of the old management are now seen as enemies by the Opoku Nti-led management. David Serebour is treated as an alien. Benefactor Dr. Kwaku Frimpong is now treated badly at the Baba Yara stadium whenever he goes to watch Kotoko games. Sarfo Gyamfi “the Black president” who started the Adako Jachie water project to ensure greener grass at the facility has been impeded by the Kotoko management and that project has now stalled. Abrantie Amakye Dede has not hidden his displeasure about the treatment given to him when he started financing the Adako Jachie water project. The project is now in limbo.
18. Inability to keep big talents at the club. Kofi Nti Boakye left Kotoko for Libya when his contract had run out. Michael Helegbe, Yaya Mohammed, Soulama Abdoulaye, Bobie Ansah, Ben Adama, Prince Baffoe, Augustine Okrah all left Kotoko freely. Ahmed Toure was the top scorer of the club last season but management failed to properly manage the Ivorian and he has left.
19. Inability to service Kotoko debts. The current board and management have failed to settle the debts of the club especially the Multi-credit debt. Kotoko is obliged by the court to pay Multi-Credit GHC 5,000.00 every month. Since this regime took over, not a penny has been paid. Had it not been the magnanimity of the owners of the company, the team would have been in court again now.
20. Making Kotoko more of a laughing stock. The club has been the subject of public ridicule for some time now. Kotoko quoted a repealed article of the Ghana Football Association’s rules and regulations in the Berekum Chelsea protest last season. A big club like Asante Kotoko should have officers with much football expertise to deal with legal cases like this one. This is a Kotoko management that pays different winning bonuses to players for the same match – GHC 400.00 for newly signed players and GHC 300.00 for the old players for the 2016 season.
21. Inefficient running of Kotoko Express. One reliable source of funding for Asante Kotoko in the past was the club’s official newspaper which was massively patronized by the loyal fans of the club due to the effective handling of the Kotoko Express, thanks to business knowhow of people like Kabral Blay Amihere, the board chairman of the newspaper. It is again important to recall that the Kotoko Express contributed GHC 5,000 every month and the Graphic Group of Companies debt was settled under the K.K. Sarpong era. Players like Michael Helegbe, Issah Yakubu were all bought to the club by Kotoko Express. This is enough evidence to show that the newspaper under the old regime was effectively managed and fetched the club some good money. However, under the Opoku Nti-led management, the Kotoko Express has gone broke. There were times that there were no weekly publications as the club’s newspaper was engulfed in great debt. Regrettably again, at one point in time, the current management of the club threatened to prohibit workers of Kotoko Express from covering the club’s activities because Opoku Nti and his team felt the club’s newspaper were not serving their interest and kowtowing to their whims and caprices.
22. Very weak operations department. The operations department of the club has been very weak. Extremely weak. That’s all I can say.
23. Non-accountability of MTN short code 1402 money. The club and MTN entered into an agreement to provide Kotoko fans current news about the club by means of text messages. Subscribers are deducted 40 pesewas on a daily basis. Till date, no one has accounted for the amount of money that has been accumulated for the club over the months.
24. Unnecessary pressure on Kotoko players. Kotoko players are strongly warned not to grant interviews to the media unless the club’s communications officer has endorsed such interviews. This has created a barrier between the team and the media and some players are obviously not happy with the decision as they are professionals. Again, anytime the team/player(s) do not perform up to expectation, management members or their known allies would single out individual players and lambast them seriously to the extent of accusing some of them of bribe taking. Kotoko players have no protection. Abdoulaye Soulama is a typical example.
25. Lack of confidence in the current management. There seem to be no confidence in the current leadership of the club. Fans are unhappy with the turn of events as the club lies 16th on the Ghana premier league table after Week 6. Various regional circles have expressed their unhappiness and displeasure with the club’s management. The management is currently at loggerheads with the head coach. There is simply an obvious rejection from the supporters who matter most in the club. Supporters are now threatening demonstration against board and management.
26. Very weak or non-existent legal team. Kotoko quoted a repealed article of the Ghana Football Association’s rules and regulations in the Berekum Chelsea protest last season. A big club like Asante Kotoko should have officers with much football expertise to deal with legal cases like this one. Moreover, in the Hearts of Oak protest last season – Kotoko lost the protest in the first place until the appeal was won when a legal brain, Duah Adonteng formed part of the legal team for the club. When team manager Godwin Ablordey was hurled before the DC of the GFA last two seasons, the former captain went alone without the club providing any professional lawyer to aid him – Ablordey was subsequently handed a 10-match ban and GHC 8000 fine.
27. Inability to sign top players. The club used to buy some of the best talents in the country and abroad and that has been the tradition for several years until now. Most of the players the club sign nowadays are all free agents and that is not to say they are bad signings but today clubs like Aduana Stars, Inter Allies, Berekum Chelsea possess the bargaining power to lure some of the best players ahead of Kotoko. How do you buy a foreign player who cannot make it to the starting XI?
28. Lack of results on the field of play. Kotoko have won just one game out of six games played in the current premier league season and are rooted to the bottom of the league table after Week 6. The quality of football played is below expectation and the players and technical team have complained about the poor pitch at the training facility at Adako Jachie. Against Division two side AK Shion in an FA Cup, Kotoko had to win on penalties to advance after the Chiraa-based side totally outplayed the Porcupine Warriors.
29. Circles seeking police permit to demonstrate against Board and Management. It is unusual to hear Kotoko supporters threatening to go on demonstration and this is very surprising now and an indication of the magnitude of the slump of the club. People are really expecting to see the immediate sacking of both board and management. As for the board, its chairman – Paul Adu Gyamfi- was honest by admitting that the board of the club set up by His Majesty in 2013 has failed to deliver and that they should be dissolved.
30. Departing players leave with bitterness. The circumstances that surrounded the exit of several Kotoko players were just too unprofessional on the part of the club. Defender Kwaben Adusei was featured on Kotoko Express that he had traveled with a fake passport to land a deal for himself in South Africa – a player who served the club diligently was paid back with embarrassment when he left the club for South African side Black Aces. Yaya Mohammed, Ahmed Toure, Abdoulaye Soulama, Smallboy Corba, Ben Adama, Richard Mpong, etc. are all harboring bitterness as a result of ill treatment by management.
By Frank Owusu Ansah “Franco Naro”Metro 94.1 FM – Head of Sports/Human Resource Officer
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