If there is any one thing that has affected a great football club like Kumasi Asante Kotoko and has prevented it from attaining its full glories and potentials on the Ghanaian and African football arena, it is nothing but a continuous string of poor leadership and mismanagement over the past two to three decades. There is no disputing the fact that this phenomenon is responsible for over 90 percent, if not 100, of the woes the great club finds itself in; a point that has been reiterated by several connoisseurs, and ardent followers of the club including senior journalists Osei Owusu Bempah, Jerome Otchere and CEO of Databank, Kojo Addae-Mensah.
In this era of COVID-19 when every organization is experiencing financial crisis due to the cessation of usual operations, Kotoko has inflicted itself with another serious financial wound making their case one of a double agony. In these dire moments, the team has been ordered by FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber to cough out an amount of US$180,000 to Espérance de Tunis as a fine for wrongly registering Emmanuel Clottey without the consent of the Tunisian side who, according reports making rounds, had a running contract with the player at the time of the transfer in 2015. Kotoko is also to pay an additional $45,000 in interests accrued plus $15,000 as committee charges bringing the total to $240,000 to be paid by May 10 2020, failure of which the club will be relegated to the lower division of Ghana football.
Sadly enough, the problem does not end there as the team has, in very recent months, driven itself into more financial quagmire on the domestic front. Kotoko is under obligation by relevant Ghana Football Association adjudicatory bodies to pay over $45,000 in compensation to former coaches C. K. Akonnor and Kjetil Zachariassen for wrongful dismissals.
Up until the appointment of Coach C. K. Akunnor in October 2018, Kotoko had appointed and parted ways with as many as 16 coaches within a period of 10 years. About nine months into his 3-year contract, Coach Akonnor was also subtly removed from his role to be replaced by Coach Zachariassen who himself got sacked less than five months on the job and replaced by the current coach Maxwell Konadu. In effect Kumasi Asante Kotoko has changed 19 coaches within a period of 12 years giving an average of about six months per coach. Which team with clear vision and focus into the future does this?
On the issue of player turnover at the club, there is nothing good to write home about. The team has, in recent times, been accused of signing over 50 players in less than two years without anything to show for it. When former Hearts of Oak Coach Kim Grant criticized the recruitment policy of Kotoko, the management did not take his criticism kindly although there was some truth in his comments. Player recruitment in Kotoko in recent years is so rampant and hurriedly done that it leaves one thinking whether the team just has money to throw away or enjoys the fanfare of outdooring new players. It is very difficult to appreciate the motive for these recruitments and what sort of due diligence go into the quality, standard and performance of these players who are hastily signed on.
It is an open secret that a lot of the players Kotoko has signed lately never made any significant contributions to the performance of the team. While some never featured in any competitive game for Kotoko during their time with the team, others spent 90% of their stay on the bench probably because they were not good enough to command starting places in a team which has been far from impressive.
It is a known fact that, in football, a team’s biggest asset is the size of its following and when it comes to this, Kotoko has more than it takes to make the club a football super power not only in Africa but beyond. Asante Kotoko can boast of being one of the teams with very dedicated supporters who are always and ever ready to support the growth and development of the club to be able to rub shoulders with the best in domestic and continental football. Why then is the team not able to make the most of its potentials to attain the greatness it deserves? Why can’t we harness the full economic and business potentials of this huge support base to the benefit of the team, the supporters and Ghana football in general? What do the loyal supporters get in return for their sacrifices, contributions and if not trophies good and entertaining football?
In all these, one would ask; what kind of management has the club had over the years that has failed to see and make maximum use of the team’s potentials? What kind of leadership has been superintending such unpardonable cycle of managerial errors year-in year out? Is there a dearth of visionary, knowledgeable, and experienced football administrators in Ghana with the requisite astuteness and business acumen to run Asante Kotoko professionally like it is being done with teams such as Mamelodi Sundowns, Orlando Pirates, Al Ahli, TP Mazembe and the likes?
But for lack of foresight, professionalism and business-minded leadership, why would an 85-year old team that boasts of over four million passionate supporters lack its own stadium and modern standard training facilities? What prevents us our leaders from doing what it takes to fully harness the massive potentials that this great club possesses to bring it to the level where it belongs?
I would like to use this medium to appeal to the appointing authorities to, as a matter of urgency, intervene and liberate this great club from the shackles of mismanagement and poor leadership it has suffered from for so long. Although some people who have been at the helm of affairs of the club in the last two decades including Mr. Herbert Mensah, Dr K. K. Sarpong and Dr Kwame Kyei deserve some commendation for the modest efforts they made towards improving things in Kotoko, the team is still very far of the mark
Let’s avail the club for more robust and professional leadership that has realistic vision, understands the principles of modern football as business and sees Kumasi Asante Kotoko as a highly marketable brand. The team needs a leadership that knows and is willing to uphold principles of good governance and administration demonstrated in the development and implementation of sound policies and professional marketing strategies. Such a leadership must be given strict short, medium- and long-term targets to achieve in the holistic development of the club and strictly held accountable for them.
At this moment when the team appears to going through another leadership transition coupled with the lull in football activities occasioned by COVID-19, let us grab the opportunity to reflect deeply on these and take the necessary steps to do things right for once. I have been and remain of the strong conviction that, Kumasi Asante Kotoko will take its rightful place among elite teams in continental and global football if the vicious circle of bad leadership and mismanagement is stopped.
Solomon Agyemang Duah
The writer is a social commentator, Football Enthusiast and a Communications Specialist.