The full story: Sharks, Berekum Chelsea and the Easter convention
Week three of the much delayed Ghana Premier League should come to an end later today save Berekum Chelsea’s match with Elmina Sharks. That has been postponed to a later date. The match itself should have taken place at the Golden City Park, in Berekum. But like most clubs in Ghana, they have absolutely no control over the usage of the facility in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The park is owned and managed by the Berekum Municipal Assembly. They have the right to rent it out to other institutions for a fee, a venture that seems to fetch them more revenue than football clubs using it. Remember Berekum Arsenals, a division one club also uses the facility for their home matches. Inter-schools games also take place there.
But Berekum Chelsea’s inability to use the venue for their league match against Sharks has raised lots of questions relative to the prime motive for the park, why clubs are not making conscious effort to build and own their home stadiums (as has been the case with some emerging clubs such as West Africa Football Academy, Elmina Sharks FC, Karela etc), the rippling effect on other stakeholders should owners of stadiums or parks give it out for other activities such as Church Services.
The football fraternity joined Elmina Sharks to vehemently express their anger and frustration after they travelled about 350km from their base in Elmina to Berekum on Monday, for a league match, only to be told that the park is not available because the District Assembly has given it out to the Berekum Pentecost Church for their annual Easter Convention.
According to a deep throat source, though Berekum Chelsea had been in the known since the Church started negotiation with the Assembly, they were officially informed by the assembly on Monday 26th March 2018 during a meeting with the affected clubs, including Berekum Arsenals.
Chelsea subsequently informed the GFA/PLB for a reschedule of their week the match since they could not reverse the agreement reached between the Assembly and the Church which spans from Tuesday, 27th March to Sunday 1st April. Attempts by stakeholders to adopt alternative means proved futile.
The Municipal Sports Development Officer, Mr Samuel Amoah corroborated this except to say that he was not part of the meeting between the Assembly and the clubs.
Joseph Baffour, a Member of the committee in charge of Golden City Park pointed to the fact that the change in the league calendar is to be blamed. He further noted that the situation is unfortunate but they only agreed to make use of the free days as the initial league calendar provided. He reiterated that football matches at the park remains important in their plans as to the usage of the venue but added they will rent out the facility on free days per the league calendar to generate revenue.
Fans were however shocked about the development as they blamed the assembly for taking that decision. But after explanation of the issues thoroughly by the assembly and the club, calm has been restored.
Some fans, however, lamented that the assembly should ensure that the situation does not repeat itself regardless of changes in the clubs schedule.
In a related development, the Sunyani Coronation Park has also been rented out for another Easter Convention which has threaten two Division One League matches this weekend. But the timely and last minute involvement of the Brong Ahafo Regional Football Association, the Church and the clubs – Sunyani Young Apostle and BA United – will honour their week two matches on Saturday and Sunday respectively at the Sunyani coronation park.
The Church as part of their social responsibility has painted the walls of the park as well as the dressing rooms and the doping centre. This renovation is going to cost the church close to 5,000 cedis.
Berekum Arsenals will now host their regional derby with Nea Salamina on Monday instead of Sunday.
Meanwhile, Berekum Chelsea are expected to host Elmina Sharks on 4th April, to clear the outstanding week three of the Ghana Premier League.