Barring any last minute changes, the much anticipated 2023/2024 Ghana Premier League season would commence today, Friday, with an opening game between Real Tamale United and Accra Hearts of Oak at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium in Tamale.
At the launch of the season in Koforidua, the president of the Ghana Football Association, Mr Kurt Edwin Simeon Okraku made a mouth-watering announcement with regards to prizes to be won by the eighteen participating clubs.
According to president Okraku, the winner for the league, which would be sponsored by betPawa, would walk away with a staggering GH¢500,000. He further announced prize monies of GH¢200,000, GH¢100,000, GH¢80,000 GH₵70,000 and GH¢60,000 for the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth positions respectively.
The Chronicle in a previous editorial praised the FA for coming out with such impressive rewards and additional packages such as marketing and TV rights for all the clubs.
As announced by president Okraku during the launch, one of the main reasons for the astronomical increase of the prize monies was to among other things make the local league more competitive.
The Chronicle couldn’t agree more with the FA, since in our sincerest view the competitiveness of the league is a major contributory factor to get supporters to the league centres during matches.
Additionally, it is our view that a highly competitive local league would ensure that there would be worthy champions who could showcase our game and make Ghana proud at the continental level.
This is because in recent times, Ghanaian clubs do struggle to go past the first round or the preliminary stages of continental engagements or hardly get to the money zone of the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) club competitions.
In fact, the rate at which our local clubs use to get knocked out easily at CAF club competitions could lend credence to the fact that the standard of football in Ghana has fallen.
As a result of the seemingly uncompetitive nature of the league, local based players hardly get call-ups into the national teams as that has become a preserve for foreign based players.
However, players from the local league in the past could easily be called into any of the national teams, including the Black Stars.
Of course, there are several factors accountable for why handlers of our national teams snub the local players, with the lack of quality in the league often standing out.
It is in the light of this that the paper wholeheartedly supports any move by the FA and all stakeholders to make the local game more exciting, interesting to watch and highly competitive.
This, we believe, would presumably trigger the interest of international scouts in our local players, as was the case years ago.
We, therefore, want to call on the FA, the organisers of the league, and all other interest groups and stakeholders to collectively work together to ensure that the league would be competitive. as the FA president stated.
They must ensure that all other components necessary for making the game attractive and competitive would be addressed prior to today’s opening game and sustained throughout the season, as done elsewhere.
We cannot call on supporters to troop to league centres to watch local games when the matches are alleged to be compromised with already made results.
For nothing at all, the left back of reigning champions, Medeama’s Abdul Fatau Hamidu and their top striker Jonathan Sowah, who had the opportunity to play for the Stars in the international friendly game against Liberia gave good accounts of themselves.
In our view, the two have justified that given the opportunity and with the necessary encouragement, the local players could also equally play for the Senior National Team.
We wish all the clubs well in the new season and hope that players would give good reasons and justifications for their inclusion into the national teams.