PLB chief pushes for start of league before 2015 AFCON

The Chairman of the Premier League Board of the Ghana Football Association, Welbeck Abra-Appiah says that the new season should start before the 2015 African Nations Cup kicks off in Equatorial Guinea.

Following an Accra Human Rights Court ruling that on Monday threw out King Faisal’s application for an injunction to be placed on the annual GFA Congress, the GFA will soon announce a date for the Congress, which will herald the start of the long-delayed season.

In an exclusive chat with footy-ghana.com, Abra-Appiah noted that the Premier League programme can start within a week of the Congress taking place, adding that online registration of players has eliminated the time that would have been spent on publication and verification.

“Thankfully we are doing online registration of players and that completely eliminates the time that would have been spent on publication and verification of names presented by the clubs. So it is essential that we start the new season as soon as possible; preferably within a week after the Congress takes place.”

The PLB boss also told footy-ghana.com of his outfit’s preparedness to begin immediately, with the coast now clear, noting that an early start helps the clubs, which had been paying for the cost of running their respective outfits without any revenue coming in, as a result of the long delay.

“The clubs have had to pay player salaries and the general cost of running their outfits for a long time now without any revenue and so to delay the start of the season further will help nobody. We need to get started as soon as possible to help the clubs. The PLB is more than ready to organize a successful programme and, with the approval of the Executive Committee, we will do everything to ensure that the season runs smoothly despite the time constraints.”

Abra-Appiah called on all competing clubs to start well, in order to avoid the situation that resulted in King Faisal having to take the GFA to court, reminding all and sundry that at the end of the season, three clubs would be relegated as is always the case.

“At the end of the season, by all means three clubs would be relegated, so I am calling on all participating clubs to start well and play well to avoid getting into relegation trouble, which can sometimes lead to the situation we found ourselves in, as per the long delay of the start of the Premier League.”

The long serving PLB Chairman noted that the relative absence of locally based players in the Black Stars squad should make it easy for the Premier League season to go on during the 2015 African Nations Cup, adding that Premier League football could be put on hold only on days that the Black Stars would be in action.

“We can run a system where there will be no Premier League matches when Ghana is playing in Equatorial Guinea, but since there aren’t that many local players in the team, we can play Premier League matches within that time and we could do as many as five match days within that time alone.”

Abra Appiah told footy-ghana.com that he empathizes with the country’s football media, which according to him, has been starved of news from the Premier League front.

“The delay has shown as all that the product (Premier League) is one that people like and it is clear that the media has been starved of information because no matches are going on. If we start early, the media should have more to talk about and the Premier League should be back where it belongs, especially because of the resultant media hype.”

He revealed that due to time constraints, the season would see matches being played every three days, noting that the PLB aims to finish the season latest by August 2015.

“We are constrained by time and so we will organize a crash program. That means that we will have match days on Saturdays/Sundays and Wednesdays so that we can finish the league as soon as we can. We also have clubs representing Ghana in African continental competition and that means we have to take all that into consideration. We are aiming to finish the coming season latest by August 2015. Indeed, if all goes well, we could finish earlier than that.”