Our Premier League deserves better.

Better planning at the PLB

Jerome Otchere

Posted on: Tue Feb 14, 2017

Twenty four years ago, the Professional League Board (PLB) was born and given the mandate to administer the elite football league.  According to the ‘Complete History of the Ghana Football League, 1958 to 2012’ – authored by veteran journalist, Ken Bediako – “The introduction of professional [football] was decreed by the Ministry of Sports and all clubs were ordered to register as limited liability companies in October 1993. 

The Ministry of Sports setup a seven-member Professional League Board to run the league and the work of the PLB, Ken Bediako notes, was however not clearly defined as the Ghana Football Association (GFA) continued to handle the league. Years on, the PLB’s role emerged quite clearly with the objective to infusing professionalism into the administration of the league. 

The name Professional League Board didn’t bring much since not much changed in terms of the practicalities. Professionalism aas still distant from the doorsteps of the clubs and that was partly the reason, the leadership of the league body some time back, substituted the "Professional" with "Premier" to eventually give us the Premier League Board. 

I vividly remember the then PLB Chairman, Welbeck Abra Appiah advocating and stoutly defending the name change because the behaviour of clubs in the league was opposite to the dictates of professionalism. Abra Appiah was right but the truth is, looking back, some progress have been made. 

If I don't remember anything at all, the registration of players online, which is in conformity with practices at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA), is one landmark development. Despite that significant achievement, our Premier League still deserves a lot more than we are giving it. 

I’m in no doubt that, the recent decision to have 16 club representatives on the PLB is positive. But the question to ask is that, what inputs do these representatives make to shape the image of our league? This question is relevant because, the colour of ideas that go into decisions at the PLB have direct impact on the overall image of the league. 

I’ve no sacrosanct information relative to the shape of ideas that the club representatives put up at PLB meetings to arrive at some of their decisions. My thoughts and judgements are based on critical observations I make on actions and inactions of the PLB like their recent decision to reschedule the start of the 2016/17 Premier League from the 4th to 11th of February, 2017. 

The rescheduling, we were told, was in solidarity with the Black Stars, who had the chance of playing in the 2017 AFCON final in Gabon, had they beaten the eventual winners, Cameroon in their semi-final encounter. The Black Stars lost 0-2. They didn't make it to the final but back home, we had moved the start of the Premier League to another week. 

How the league body, regardless of the strength of the proposal they receive, could make that change was something I found confounding. If there's anything that hurts and continues to harm interest in our Premier League, it's the frequency and in fact, the ease with which authorities in charge of the competition, disrupt their own programmes at times with scant regard for other stakeholders like the fans and the media. 

The AFCON schedule was known a year or two earlier and again, the Black Stars’ participation was known. So, how we could settle on February 4, 2017 as the start date for the already late Premier League; release the fixtures accordingly and suddenly return to the table to change its start date only because of the Black Stars, speaks volumes of our seriousness. 

It’s sad that at this time, we still can’t plan and stick to it. It would have been better for the league to start after the AFCON, like we have now, than to tell the whole world that, the league would start before the AFCON and then, only a few days to the start, we come out to change the date for reasons not justifiable enough. That behaviour kills interest in the league and the powers that be should know that! 

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