Cash and glory: Can Asante Kotoko enjoy both?

The current administration of the Porcupine Warriors are under fire over their wholesale shipment of key players, but will that bring them both silverware and wealth
 Nana Frimpong
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Success. The very meaning of the word in the vocabulary of the beautiful game has altered significantly since the turn of the century.

In the days when football was but a sport, good performances on the pitch and the silverware that accompanied them were the ultimate definition of success. Times have changed, though, and now football - the business - has had its priorities shifted considerably.

The level of success chalked by a football club is not measured anymore in how well-stocked its trophy cabinet appears only, but also by the sheer size of its bank account. For clubs like England’s Arsenal and a few others at least, that is the norm. Of course, there are sides that have managed to enjoy footballing success in both currencies and are doing so quite impressively, among them the likes of FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich. Others, too, are striving to walk the same tightrope, but appear to be struggling to maintain a perfect balance in their efforts; clubs like Ghana's Kumasi Asante Kotoko.

Few can genuinely doubt the intentions of the current administration tasked with handling Kotoko’s affairs. In fact, none would be more delighted to see the Porcupine Warriors dismantle all opposition they encounter and sweep every laurel they contest for than Executive Chairman Dr. K.K Sarpong and his team. Simultaneously, however, they seek to build Kotoko into an outfit profitable enough domestically and continentally, and are actively working towards achieving that objective. Business-minded Dr. Sarpong has indeed done much to develop the Kotoko brand to an extent as has not been seen since the days of Herbert Mensah. The club has struck mega deals with several institutions both financial and sporting, from which Kotoko are expected to rake plenty in terms of funds. Still, for a club that relies heavily on stadium attendance for revenue, monetary gains reaped from those other sources never would be plentiful enough. And that is where the problem lies.

Kotoko fans, boast as they do of their sheer numbers, frequent the club’s games -especially when they play at their Baba Yara Stadium home - quite poorly, ensuring that the team they profess affection for records low figures from earnings received from ticket sales. The need then arises for the present administration to seek other means of finding money to supplement the huge budget on which a club of Kotoko’s magnitude operates.

To ensure Kotoko enjoys success in both currencies - silverware and wealth - management and the supporters ought to work hand-in-hand, with either side being required to fulfill a role clearly defined

- Nana Frimpong
Thus far, the method that has proved most feasible is the sale - 'firesale', in fact, as critics term it - of the club’s more prized assets. At the end of the previous season - one that saw Kotoko crowned champions of Ghana - several of the team’s regulars were offloaded. Daniel Nii Adjei, adjudged the best player of the 2011-12 league season, along with Yaw Frimpong, Ben Acheampong and Awal Mohammed were sold to other ambitious African clubs who offered the 'right' prices, while the likes of Baba Abdul Rahman - arguably the country’s most promising left-back at present - and forward Nathaniel Asamoah were shipped to Europe after no more than a little over a year spent at the club. The effect of those key departures has been all too pronounced on Kotoko’s title defence campaign this term, as the side has faltered against opponents they would have swatted aside with great ease last year.

In the aftermath of the Champions League adventure that came to an anti-climax recently courtesy a blunt display when Kotoko hosted Algeria’s JSM Bejaia, however, most supporters could no longer suppress their frustrations over how damaging the effects of those pre-season losses have proved.

From the perspective of this writer, however, they can have none but themselves to blame. Doubtlessly, the fans have forced the hand of the club’s management, albeit unwittingly, into taking desperate measures that merely qualify as a necessary evil.

To ensure Kotoko enjoys success in both currencies - silverware and wealth - management and the supporters ought to work hand-in-hand, with either side being required to fulfill a role clearly defined. Kotoko need not choose between claiming cash and glory; it certainly is a club great enough to enjoy both. Much of that, however, would depend on its greatest resource: the very fans who refuse to fund the dream they so desire to realise.