Kumasi Asante Kotoko, founded in 1935 has tried several management styles with varied results. The record Ghana Premier League winners and one time African Club of the Century has seen its dominance on the continent wither as Clubs hitherto considered minnows in the game have surpassed the Ghanaian champions’ achievements. Questions are frequently asked as to why Kotoko has performed poorly in Africa over the last decade. Some point to resources, for others coaching and lack of player retention readily comes to mind, another group alludes to poor management and board decision making and strategic planning.

Obviously, there must be something that successful clubs on the continent are doing that their counterparts in Ghana might not be doing to get them that far. My focus is on Kotoko as a club which has supposedly eight million fans (not backed by any scientific data) which for me is such an enormous resource if channeled properly to support club initiatives. Currently, the motivation for fans to become a member of the Circles (fans wing of the club) is low. There are several people who consider themselves as fans but are not members of any recognized Circle to make direct contributions to the club. Hence, Kotoko is deprived of perhaps the most important resource available to the club because they are not motivated and organized effectively to serve as a direct contributing wing of the club.

Kotoko fans must be empowered to vote for a club President. Why because, it is necessary and will serve as motivation for a lot more to join the Circles. For a fan to vote, he or she should have registered with a recognized Circle in any part of Ghana, be issued with a biometric card that has relevant data that can serve marketing and branding purposes. At the moment, the National Circles Council is issuing cards to fans but to what end? What is the strategy behind the issuance of cards? Besides the suggestion of voting with the cards issued, club marketers can segment registered fans based on the data gathered for more direct marketing.

Fans should also be able to purchase club paraphernalia and be issued discounts using the cards. Kotoko can also engage its sponsor MTN to roll out Closed User Groups (CUGs) for fans who have registered to enjoy reduced call rates and bonanzas. But for me, two things stand out, empowering fans to vote for a club President will offer the biggest motivation to join Circles in their numbers in the first place knowing very well that they have a stake in the club.

To do that beyond registering, fans will be expected to make monthly contributions to the club failing which will lead to some privileges being withheld with the ultimate one being the right to vote. Roughly, if Kotoko is able to properly register say Three Million fans who will contribute just GH₵2 monthly as Club dues with half of that amount being retained at the Circles Council and the other half going directly to the Club accounts, that’s GH₵3,000,000 monthly for the club. With such an amount Kotoko will not struggle financially and put undue burden on Manhyia as it is the case now. Further, the club can also bargain for better sponsorships knowing that it has leverage with registered fans.

As a matter of fact, I know this proposal will be difficult for some people to accept including stakeholders at Manhyia. However, it is a feasible proposal that does need planning and should not be rushed. At best, the club will need about two years for sensitization, structural adjustments and the development of a solid plan for implementation. Also, aspiring Club Presidents who will have to work with the fans as direct contributors will need time to plan and make themselves available for elections. Fans as direct stakeholders will keep Club Presidents and their management in check knowing that they are direct stakeholders in the club. Governance in my view will be improved which will be ideal for establishing enduring transparent management structures in collaboration with all stakeholders.

If such a proposal is accepted, an interim management team can be set up to manage the transition and develop a road map for implementation for the next two years. Kotoko fans must be empowered to vote and contribute to the present and future success of the most successful club in Ghana and among the top clubs in Africa.

Yaw Adu-Gyamfi is an entrepreneur and sustainable development expert and co-founder of the Centre for Social Innovations, headquartered in Kumasi, Ghana. He can be reached via yagyamfi@gmail.com