If you are in the food services and delivery business where despite Covid-19 restrictions, you were able to improvise to suit the difficult times or managed to make gains, you may have to count yourself lucky. For, others in event organisation or businesses like football, were not so fortunate to have their businesses thriving amidst the Covid-19 restrictions.
That chiefly explains why there was joy within our football fraternity when President Akufo-Addo eased restrictions on football in his 17th update on measures taken against the spread of Covid-19. Those within the corridors of power at the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS) and the Ghana Football Association (GFA) knew of the President’s move. So, the easing of the restrictions was no surprise to them but the satisfaction in their voice has been distinctly clear.
The GFA’s General Secretary, Prosper Harrison Addo in a reaction to the President’s announcement, told me, “Our business is football” and to the extent that, they could not sell their products due to Covid-19 restrictions; there is cause to be happy if they can now do business. Prosper’s view sums up the issue. Clubs were dealt a big blow when football was suspended in March. Ambitions were cut short. Dreams truncated and the future even unknown.
It was hard to tell when football would return. The season would be cancelled eventually in June. That meant more hardship for clubs who, prior to Covid-19, were struggling already. The talk of pay-cuts was akin to strangling the already hungry players. Coaches remained idle. Fans endlessly grumbled in boredom. For club owners and administrators, their stress was more. Having to find money out of nowhere to pay players while making plans simultaneously for the resumption of the game anytime authorities deemed appropriate was quite a headache.
The media were not left out of the difficulties Covid-19 and suspension of football created for their work too. Media right owners of our league and FA Cup, StarTimes, needless to say, re-programmed for the Ghana Premier League’s dedicated channel, Adepa. Now, the return of football means a revival of all businesses related to the game. That, attendance at match venues will be limited to 25 percent capacity to ensure social distancing and the observance of other Covid-19 protocols is good health-wise.
However, that arrangement also and instantly presents a financial challenge to clubs even before a ball is kicked. Our clubs mostly rely on gate proceeds for survival. Therefore, control of the numbers that can be at matches even if attendances were good, is a problem. This notwithstanding, football’s return offers more positives than negatives for players eager to train and play competitively; for coaches anxious to test and pitch their new recruits; for fans ready to be entertained and indeed for club owners and others hopeful of making gains no matter the situation.
The return of the game is good news and how well we fare with our test-run, that is, playing the game under the eased restrictions could see the loosening up of the restrictions more, and to provide a better environment for the football business to thrive.