Despite the rise in infections of the novel Covid-19 pandemic that is indicating the second wave of the spread of the disease, fortunately, contact sports such as football have been given the green light to resume.
Indeed, the resumption of the country’s top flight football – the Ghana Premier League – that began last weekend could be seen as a sign of a gradual process of economic recovery.
The pundits and connoisseurs of the football fraternity in the country are optimistic of a resounding 2020/21 premier league season as various football supporters are expected to cheer their respective clubs to victory.
The question then is, who wins the trophy? It is too early to ask right? Certainly it is, but it is part of the game; the moment the season begins, fans are very anxious about the success of their various clubs in the campaign.
However, it is sad to note that this time around, football fans and supporters would have to be watching the matches at home on TV until the Covid-19 disease is defeated. However, supporters are expected to give same maximum support that they would have given their players at the stadia whiles watching at home.
One important feature or characteristic of this year’s premier league, is undoubtedly, the return of some leading Ghanaian players from their respective careers abroad, including all time top goal scorer, Asamoah Gyan, and the “young potential”, Sulley Ali Muniru, who are back in the premier league at Legon Cities and Asante Kotoko respectively.
Though this trend is not new, some pundits say that this time, the approach and the personalities involved make it new and exciting to watch them play again in front of their home fans after a long spell abroad.
Indeed, with the return of Asanoah Gyan as the top marksman for Ghana’s elite club, Legon Cities, many pundits and experts in the country’s football corridors have indicated that it would go a long way to raise the business side of the game.
Importantly, one thing that comes to mind is the issue of sponsorship which encompasses branding and the various marketing strategies of the clubs competing in the league, including pitches, nature of administration among others. All these factors help to bring in a deserved lead or title sponsor for the premier league.
Simply put, sponsorship in sport is a business that provides funds to a football (or other sports) team to enable the clubs buy essential assets such as team kits, equipment, training facilities and even travel to and from matches.
In return for this investment, the sponsor is expected to receive extensive advertising across the club, the team kit, in a newsletter or programme, online and so on. This association can prove a great way for businesses to demonstrate good corporate social responsibility and also helps commercially too.
Indeed, having sponsorship funding allows athletes to focus more on the training and production of their sports and reduces stress when it comes to finding money to train and put on events. Sponsorship deals between brands and teams/ athletes are a form of partnership where both brand and team benefit.
Sponsorship is important for football clubs as it would assist to fund necessities to ensure the club can continue to run effectively. Not only does it provide the means for various clubs and team to operate, but it also, on a vanity level, demonstrates that the team is actually operating professionally.
“Having this type of support from a business can take the financial strain off your shoulders, leaving more time for you to focus on performance, training and matches. A sponsorship works both ways, giving a brand great exposure and a football team the means to focus on the sport”, this according to Avec Sport.
Thus, much potential is expected to be brought to play as personalities like Asamoah Gyan in the league could push for better sponsorship deals, that could also enable other clubs to “act” professionally.
Indeed, it is now expected that Asamoah Gyan will take club sponsorship to new levels, by personally offering his brand or product endorsements to companies willing to sponsor Legon Cities, with him being rewarded with a percentage of the sponsorship. Being the most internationally renown player to play in the Ghana Premier League since it was established he has the potential to pioneer this kind of sponsorship arrangement which is common in Europe, providing huge financing for clubs and their most popular players.
If he can pull it off, other such deals could follow, even if with lesser known players and involving smaller sponsorship amounts. But starting it off would be a game changer for the league and the teams that play in it.
Hopefully, the days of Asamoah Gyan changing fortunes on the football pitch are far from over. Indeed, with regards to football development in Ghana, they may just be now beginning.