OPINION: Kumasi Asante Kotoko - of hand-over notes, interim mandates and a new board; where is PROGRESS?
By Yaw Frempong Ampomah
“Asante Kotoko oseeyyyy yeeeee….” Yes! Whether in response to a pleasant news from Manhyia or to that glorious goal and result from our last game at Baba Yara, this is a chant that signifies a call to duty for every supporter of Africa’s club of century and a reminder of a responsibility to not only share in the glory thereof but to work assiduously to ensure success. It is in this vein I find the need to draw the attention of all true and well-meaning Porcupines to a very regrettable development in our dear club; those issues we do not see in red shirts and pants with superior ball possession on the pitches of Ghana.
15 matches into the season and Kotoko is thankfully dominating her opponents and bossing the field but one cannot say same about goings on at the board and management level. One may wonder what could possibly be going on and that is the point exactly, there is nothing going on.
Admittedly, the club has a board of distinguished personalities chaired by Lawyer Paul Adu- Gyamfi. They appointed an interim General Manager in club legend Samuel Opoku Nti whose tenure, until December 18, was shrouded in one huge confusion and reasonably so because his mandated 3-month period of reign had expired on December 5th, 2013. Not a single word had, however, been communicated by the board or Mr. Nti on the way forward, in this regard, to the club’s teeming followers, her partners and sponsors who needed that vital assurance of not having to deal with a headless entity.
These are not the proudest opening paragraphs to any opinion piece authored by me but neither is it the time to dance around critical issues needing immediate attention and before you hit me with the well titled “Don’t spoke the wheel” speech, first show me where I can find the plan. Indeed, asking everyone to “come together and support” the Opoku Nti - led management team, though becoming a trite, is a call in order but eliciting the right response to such calls becomes a challenge when no one knows what exactly it there to support.
M ay i introduce my perspectives? Thank you. Let me just say that Asante Kotoko’s technical team, headed by Masud Didi Dramani with his managerial acumen as a coach, is the only thing keeping the club together from a major wrangling because as a department head, he is getting his team to work right. Now, you may want to extend this credit to the management and board by extension and you wouldn’t be wrong but in an era where the success of the club is no longer tied exclusively to just winning on the pitch, how then do you measure success? This is particularly true when you consider the fact that not too long ago a Dr. K.K Sarpong - led administration faced a stiff and almost violent opposition from a significant section of the media and the club’s supporters for what appeared to be a lack of satisfaction for his management style as well as his performance as Executive chairman even though he had chalked relative successes on the field in addition to an unprecedented haul of sponsorship deals before resigning from his post. In my candid view, the events leading to his departure from the club marked the redefinition of expectations for all. Whatever be the case, it is all behind us now just as Major Yaw Larsen’s, Sylvester Owusu’s or Herbert Mensah’s, just to mention but a few former administrative heads in Kotoko’s more recent past, but what should not be relegated to the past is the lessons embedded in these past management dispensations as much as the present and the future has become the most crucial to redeem.
A statement often quoted by Nana Yaw Asante Yeboah, one of Ghana’s finest sports analysts, reads: “Insanity is doing the same things in the same way with an expectation of a different result” (A quote originally attributed to Albert Einstein). Tell me, how brave are you to contend with this picture as an untrue representation of what pertains to Kotoko; where nothing good left behind or achieved by another, a predecessor or a successor, is good enough?
Regardless of what your appreciation of this progress retarding sub-culture is, a recognition of the need to re-direct this particular course is crucial to how soon we start making gains of monumental, sustainable proportions. Simply put; it is counter-productive to always begin from scratch when we can simply take out the excesses of past managers and build upon their positives. This then brings back to fore Kotoko’s historical record of ghostly existing administrative structure of poorly defined mandates or roles but there is always a redemption point in every struggle if only we would rise above our egos, eschew pettiness and the urge to out stage another for personal credit.
I see one such redemption point in what appears as a rare show of foresight and goodwill with the comprehensive handing over notes left behind by the former executive chairman of the Porcupine warriors, Dr. Sarpong. Yes, there is such a document that captures the details of the club’s administrative activities including summaries on player transfers, sponsorship deals and projects undertaken by his administration as at the end of his third and final season as club chief on the 31st July, 2013 – signifying a clear start point to the reversal of a negative attitudinal trend.
Call it an opportunity to positively move on or just the arrival of the era where we fully embrace the attitude of championing the greater, collective good of Asante Kotoko to shame all other negative tendencies that drag us back; an era to bid farewell to back-biting, hatred, selfishness, sheer malice and the pull-him-down syndrome. It is simply that time to shed what is bad for that which is good and to denounce factionalism or partisanship which is defined along personality lines rather than healthy doses of genuine differing opinions.
Additionally, and quite apart from the highly commendable shift from past practices, where old administrations leave office or are replaced (often en-block) without records on the current status of the club as at their departing moments, the erstwhile leadership, by preparing such notes, have played an essential role to smoothen out, if not entirely eradicate, the rather torturous post-transitional administrative periods thereby minimizing the risk of literally dropping the baton when such changes are carried out at the club. Any successor, therefore, with an intention to water what has already been sowed and venture into new areas of growth opportunities for the club has a clearer start point – easy and straight forward.
The question that arises then is how and why such a useful document would be shelved by new administration or by the club’s newly constituted board. Kofi Appiah, Head of sports at Hot fm, in a recent interview with Asempa sports on this same issue, for instance, did not mince words in calling out the new board and suggesting that it probably could not read and properly interpret the rather simple worded note or perhaps it was only up to plain mischief. Well, in the absence of any other plausible reason to explain this, i am tilted to agreeing with Mr. Appiah. The content of the handing-over notes is as important to any new CEO or General Manager as it is crucial to guiding the board in making certain calls bordering on Kotoko’s future especially when Dr. Sarpong occupied the position of an Executive chairman – acting as both board chairman and CEO. “New king, new law?” Well, I do not see how a handing over note becomes an instrument for setting aside the plans and schedules of a new board except to say it makes your job a whole lot easier.
The harmful effect of disregarding the document is already telling on the club as the only factor holding the situation from degenerating, as I have already alluded to early on, is the pretty obvious fact that Kotoko is churning out the needed results on the pitch but not so much off it and I will sight two examples of exactly what a continuous snub of the document will denote.
Firstly, and notwithstanding the existence of the document which for instance spell out the verifiable details of the existing sponsorship package with MTN as well as all others – including dates of signage and expiration, outstanding monies owed the club and even contact details of specifically named officers of the sponsors who are directly responsible for the various agreements, Kotoko’s interim management team appeared to have first dropped the baton about a month ago with the club’s failure to effectively liaise with title sponsors, MTN (whose sponsorship money has been committed to cater for player salaries) to either forestall the rather embarrassing delays in the payment of a 3-month salary arrears or make contingency plans to save the situation from becoming a running story in the media; a situation Mr. Nti is on record to have attributed to challenges of the transition period. The aftershock of this misfortune is the breeze of uneasiness currently threatening the furtherance of the sponsorship deals involving telecom giants, MTN and RLG communications as carried by various media reports.
What happened to Adako Jachie? The second example to drive my point home is the sorry state in which the club’s biggest physical project to build offices, changing rooms and hostel facilities finds itself. The project has stalled and been abandoned for lack of funds really? So exactly how was it being previously funded? Well it appears that the powers that be, and for most of the reasons i alluded to, would rather attempt building from scratch than complete what has already been initiated by another person. My inkling however is that, there is a complete lack of an appreciation of the worth of the handing-over notes.
The currently chaotic administrative structure has undoubtedly hampered his smooth running of the club where in his defense, Mr. Nti for instance, appeared to have been left handicapped with limited powers. It is therefore refreshing to learn that, at least, the board has finally come out with what appear to be their most definitive words on the club’s administrative direction since Opoku Nti took reigns with the extension of his mandate.
Though I personally prefer a more concrete decision with a rather substantive appointment, one with a specific mandate and time frame, I still appreciate the need to have someone hold the fort until the board gets all set and ready. Only this time, we must witness a fully functional management team with the backing of a board that sees the need to consolidate gains and chart new progressive courses.
God Bless Asante Kotoko and Long Live the King’s Club!