For many followers of the Ghana Premier League (GPL), the current standings on the league log is not only exciting, it also signals a league getting back onto its feet after the turbulence of the last four years.
A Hearts-Kotoko title race is the marker of a competitive GPL for many observers. Competitive is certainly a word that adequately describes the current GPL season apart from the Hearts-Kotoko title race. A closer look at the standings reveals other possibilities – six points separate 1st from 8th.
Medeama, Great Olympics, Karela United, Dreams FC, WAFA and Aduana Stars are all in with a shout for the title.
In mathematical terms, the GPL is currently a straight fight between challenging for the title and battling to beat the drop with eight matches remaining. Among the clubs in the latter bracket is Legon Cities FC.
When the takeover of Wa All Stars was announced, many wondered who the new owners were. Initial rumors pointed to former Ghana defender John Paintsil but it soon became clear that he was merely the face of the deal.
We’ve since come to know that the club is owned by a man with a very deep pocket. Richard K. Atikpo is the executive chairman of Gulf Energy. He is also a Member of the Council of State representing the Oti Region. Between January 2020 and April 2021, Gulf Energy Ghana Limited paid a total of GH¢409 million in statutory taxes to government through the Ghana Revenue Authority but let’s stick to the facts and not make this about Atikpo or Gulf Energy. The fact is that Legon Cities have money to spend and they’ve spent it, or at least some of it.
That fact in itself is what has left many wondering why the club finds itself on the portion of the GPL table that screams battle for survival rather than title chasers. I would cut them some slack if they’re not challenging for the title, after all it’s their first season technically speaking but if you consider the money factor it’s hard not to question the club’s ambition or the lack of it. Decisions made by Legon Cities is what has in part culminated in their underwhelming season evidenced by the current league position. So how exactly did they arrived here?
Hype over structure
Legon Cities have been more focused on building popularity rather than building structures or building structures that outlines clearly which direction they want to move in the short, medium and long term. One of the criticisms levelled against Ghanaian clubs especially Hearts and Kotoko has been the lack of a clear vision. In their defence, lack of funds has often been cited as the reason the two clubs and indeed all Ghanaian clubs struggle to lay down plans and follow through on them. That however is not the case with Legon Cities. The club’s problem doesn’t include money. They may not have it in abundance but they certainly have more money than your average Ghanaian club.
If you want evidence of Legon Cities financial depth, lack of ambition and penchant for fuelling the hype train, it lies in the signing of Asamoah Gyan. The name Asamoah Gyan is universally acclaimed and although I have my views on where he is currently as a player I’d rather not state them but stick to his numbers since joining Legon Cities. Simply put, the man whose whole career has been about off field controversies and goals has failed to score with eight games remaining in the 18-team league. He’s struggled for fitness and when he’s played there’s been flashes of maybe and nothing more.
Legon Cities may not admit it but they paid a reported one million dollars for Gyan not for his goals but for his name. It was a signing meant to enhance the profile of the club and exponentially grow its status and popularity. It’s a figure unheard of in Ghanaian local football transfer but let’s assume the rumored figure is wide off the mark, the fact still remains Legon Cities paid what Asante Kotoko were unwilling to pay for Gyan. How many clubs in Ghana can pay more than Kotoko? How many still indulge in the vain art of populism better than the Porcupines?
Beyond Gyan the club’s transfer business has lacked direction. There are two ways of recruiting players- you’re either signing players at their peak with the view of challenging for honors in the short term or signing bright young players with a long term view of success on the field and high resale value. They can afford both because they have the resources.
A proper plan which should facilitate effective use of the resource to ensure growth and on field stability remains absent. It is telling that the Gyan deal had a popular young player attached to it. Mathew Anim Cudjoe turned heads at Kotoko not least when he featured against Accra Hearts of Oak in the season before this one. He was loved by the fans but when time came to extend his stay, Kotoko and the player’s representatives couldn’t reach an agreement. In a single deal Legon Cities got the most popular young talent on the local scene and one of the best African players of all time. How about that for a hype job? The real question is what has been the impact of the money spent on the field?
Fixing what may not have been broken
The club appointed Goran Barjaktarević as head coach about three weeks before the commencement of the league. He had limited time to prepare the team. Results weren’t great but the Bosnian’s firing and subsequent results have made it clear that the problem was a lack of quality players rather than technical ineptitude on the part of Barjaktarević.
Bashir Hayford has had some success but the team’s chronic lack of consistency remains. Their position on the league table could have been worse but for boardroom points obtained from their game against Ebusua Dwarfs which was called off due to threats made by the home fans on the match officials, allegedly of course.
It is telling that five months after taking over, rumors surfaced regarding Hayford’s future and although the club denied them, the problems that existed under Barjaktarević remain. When Hayford was asked why Gyan had not been playing his response directing reporters to get the answer from the player painted a worrying picture. You do wonder at this point how many top talents could have been signed with the Gyan signing kitty.
Your money can work for and against you. It all depends on the decisions you make. Legon Cities have made the worst of decisions and may pay a heavy price for it. The club is racing against time and however you look at it, they cannot afford any more bad decisions.
- M.anifest joins father to celebrate his grandmother’s 98th birthday
- Supreme Court dismisses case against regulation of plant breeders
- Doctor fired for prescribing ice cream and video games to child with sore throat
- Ama Ata Aidoo’s iconic 1987 interview that shook the world
- I’m sad presidency is at the forefront of doing unconstitutional things – Domelevo on Supreme Court ruling
- SIM card deactivation: Crowds besiege NIA centres for Ghana Card
- Supreme Court ruling comes as a very big birthday present to me – Domelevo
- Archbishop Agyinasare’s comment can trigger security and peace instability – Security analyst
- AngloGold incident: 79 illegal miners out of underground mine
- WAFU B Women’s U20 Cup: Ghana seal final spot with comeback win over Burkina Faso
- Answering the call: Traditional rulers and climate action
- Bono GES Directorate to establish ‘sanitary bank’ for deprived school girls
- Your inauguration presents an opportunity to reset Nigerian narrative – Mahama tells Tinubu
- Court remands Director of JC Logistics over an alleged false cheque
- Media Personality Sixtus Dong Ullo runs for Law School Presidency
- Gyakye Quayson to contest Assin North seat again in June 27 by-election
- WAFU B Girls’ Cup: I need to work on their finishing – Yusif Basigi on Black Princesses team
- Banking sector faces rising risk to asset quality, capital buffers – Report
- U20 World Cup: Nigeria knock out host nation Argentina, Brazil trounce Tunisia
- Pay 30% of $1.6bn energy debt by June 30 – IPPs to government
- Two villages in North Gonja burnt down in renewed violence between Mamprusi and Gonja
- Land guards open fire on farmers, grade lands at Gomoa Okyereko
- WAFU B U20 Girls’ Cup: Nigeria thump Benin to set up final clash with Ghana
- Nigeria’s state oil firm increases petrol price
- ‘It’s disappointing’ – Bofoakwa Tano coach on not being able to lead the team in Ghana Premier League