How Ghana Premier League teams have failed in utilizing club merchandize sales (Pulse Contributor’s Opinion)

Investing into a football club undoubtedly as it perks. From the indelible glory your team achieves to the love and loyalty your fan base shower on you truly feels amazing. Behind the scenes of owning a football club comes the need to make sure it flourishes in all aspects. This includes investing in players, merchandise, customer service etc. and expecting a return from your investment through player sales, club merchandise sales, ticket sales, media broadcast rights et al.

Kotoko Jersey

The Ghana Premier League is over Sixty years old, yet the state of the Premier League is nothing to write home about. Six decades should see us ranked number 1 on the continent when it comes to African Club football. Six decades should see the country flowing with multiple investors supporting clubs. Six DECADES should see player salary/wages tremendously improved. Lastly, Six decades should have seen the GPL well commercialized by the various clubs in the country.

That brings us to the billion-dollar question- How have we commercialized the league? Are we there yet? A follow up question may be how sensitized are the various clubs when it comes to club merchandise sales?

Commercialization of club merchandise, unfortunately seem like a mirage in Ghana. With the gloomy advent of COVID 19, ticket sales, which numerous GPL clubs heavily rely on wouldn’t be enough. Clubs in Ghana basically have no publicists tapping into the lucrative market of merchandise sales in the country.

A school of thought may argue that, after Anas’ expose on the Ghana Football Association, the love has literally been ripped off the hearts of many Ghanaians. That is a valid question and rightly so because it is an obvious truth. Several Ghanaians were disappointed with the vile skeletons Anas unraveled in the GFA. But then, there comes a counter question. This is no courtroom if that is what you are wondering but we will be doing ourselves and the lovely people of Ghana a massive disservice if we do not dissect the issue fairly.

So back to the question. Did the love not die long ago? The truth Ghanaians have been made to believe is that the love died after “number 12” yet Number 12 was the last straw to an-already dead love. It was the final nail to the coffin and that is the inimical truth Ghanaians must start adjusting to. Again, this is not a sports therapy session. This isn’t where you, my dear reader, much less if you’re a Ghanaian will come and seek comfort or validation for how dysfunctional our football system is. This is a space where we need to know why clubs have failed commercially in the Ghana Premier League and why you and I have our roles to play in this tragic football drama.

For so long how many times have we seen club jerseys won by fans at the stadium. Discussing the unavailability of seats and poor infrastructure will be a topic for another day. But do we see the diehard fans wearing and patronizing club merchandise? In England alone, two-thirds of club fans own club merchandise. Merchandise here means jerseys, bags, books, coffee mugs, in a nutshell, branded items of the club. How amazing would it be to see a social media post of a fan enjoying a cup of tea in a his/her club’s branded mug on a Saturday morning anticipating their club’s 3:00pm kickoff game. The fact is club P.R.Os from where I sit are failing the system. That might be a little hash or maybe various Club C.E.Os are missing the Lecture 101 on “Owning A Football Club” and it is sad. Sad because we aren’t tapping into the necessary market of club merchandise sales.

When it comes to football merchandise the revenue clubs generate from Jersey sales alone is mind-blowing. The caveat here is, well the lion share goes to the manufacturers. Even though that doesn’t seem business friendly for club owners, that is where the licensing card comes in. I wish we were playing poker but sorry this isn’t one.

Merchandise licensing is where a manufacturer strikes a deal with a club to produce branded Jerseys in the club’s name. Here, the club signs a licensing agreement to the manufacturers to produce their jerseys over contract. Manchester United earns 75m Euros a year from Adidas and this deal will run for ten years. Aside the licensing fee, the club earns 20 percent of the total jersey sales from the Manufactures. The percentage varies according to the contract. According to Jersey traders in Ghana, the two GPL giants, Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak sell their jerseys for 500 cedis. To the average Ghanaian that is quite exorbitant and understandably so, considering the state of living in Ghana. Away from that, the science behind such a huge price can mainly be because clubs hardly obtain licensing deals mainly because the jersey manufacturing industry is nascent and to some extent, non-existent.

“You can’t quantify the industry. The market industry is non-existent.. we are now trying to put it up there. It is non-existent that’s how I put it. We are now building it up to an appreciable level of market. If not, most of the Jersey we have here are ordered from abroad.”

“We mostly do partnership with the clubs. So, we propose, and they tell us what they want and then we produce”

Abdul Rashid Zakari, a jersey manufacturer based in Dansoman explains.

Clearly Jersey partnership is not vibrant in the country because secondly, the syndrome of not patronizing Ghanaian creatives is still very existent and Firstly, C.E.Os, Public Relations officers and Stakeholders in the various GPL clubs have failed commercially. It is high time they stepped their game up and Ghanaian fans of these clubs should try their best to patronize it as well.

Contributor: Esther Appiah-Fei

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf

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