Midway through the Ghana Premier league, notable names like Daniel Lomotey, Kwame Poku and Joseph Esso whose combined striking prowess have contributed 26 goals have departed the shores of the country to seek greener pastures.
This canker has become very endemic to the local game over the years with very little in terms solution to this problem.
Mass exodus of local players have become very common to the extent fans are rather in awe if a player becomes very consistent with incredible display for weeks and has not left the shores of the country. The narrative above is very regrettable because these players are the “poster boys” to their various clubs attracting fans to the stadium for which their exit becomes a negative dent to the league. Discussions in the media and widespread rumours about the future of Diawusie Taylor and Kwame Peprah of Karela FC and King Faisal Babies respectfully is a clear example of this case.
The number one factor to this problem is economic reason. Most of our players plying their trade in the local league are more or less the breadwinners or financial backbone to their families, the expectations of family and friends on the players brings a lot of pressure to them.
A recent report carried by Angel Sports indicate some players in the league take home as low as Gh500 as monthly remuneration. Winning bonuses and motivational packages add virtually nothing to their financial base as their meagre bonuses are even owed months without being paid.
The compelling factor of such economic reasons become the number one reason why our star players who add lots of glamour to the league move to countries like Tanzania, Ethiopia, India etc just to better their financial fortunes. Richard Kisi Boateng formerly of Berekum Chelsea revealed that during his short stay in 2010 with Libyan Giants Al-Ittihad Tripoli, he was paid a relatively impressive USD3,000 monthly, an amount which is almost impossible to be replicated after ten years in the Ghana Premier League. This albatross hanging around the local league becomes a laughing spectacle when clubs rather channel funds into “ways and means” which they believe can improve their performance as against paying their players well.
Playing for the national team is a dream every player hopes to achieve before hanging their boots, precedents in the past have shown plying your trade outside the shores improves your chances of earning a call-up. Over a period, players in second and third tier leagues in Europe have been considered into the national teams while overlooking their counterparts who play in the domestic leagues – Division One League and the Premier League.
The reverse of the cause which is economic reasons should be the underlining solution. The football association should institute measures by keeping a minimum ceiling which premier league players should be paid. There must be a salary cup on how much a player must not earn below in the top-flight. Division One League clubs should be audited frequently to ensure clubs are financially sound to participate in the league once they gain promotion to the tier. Those operating from the boot of club owners with no fiscal infrastructure should be asked to remodel themselves or face expulsion from the division.
The problem of sponsorship should be tackled head-on by the football association. The absence of headline sponsors have clearly taken away the main source of funding to generally improve the whole organisation of the league. All necessary steps should be taken to bring on-board sponsors who have the financial capability to financial backing to clubs participating in the league.
Contract binding players to stay in the league for at least minimum of 3 years before seeking greener pastures can be implemented to curb the problems of player exodus. The solution above will only be a mere rhetoric if financial power is not exhibited in the league. There would be no rush for a player to leave the country if they are paid very well, enjoying celebrity status with lots of brand endorsement as against travelling outside to unfavourable weather conditions, racism among other unwelcoming factors.
A collaborative effort from the football association who are the organisers of the various leagues in the country can go a long way to resolve this issue of player exodus which has rendered the league less competitive and unattractive.
By Godwin Quadzi Junior