Two-time African champions Asante Kotoko have served the Ghana Football Association (GFA) with a letter, threatening to withdraw from the collective Premier League (GPL) TV rights sold to Chinese broadcasting firm StarTimes.
The Porcupine Warriors have been at war with the national football’s governing body following a heated disagreement over the club’s attempt to film its league opener against Eleven Wonders for educational (performance analysis) purposes in Accra on Sunday.
Match officials initially held off Kotoko’s attempt to film the game with their newly-acquired football videoing technology, arguing the activity infringed on the broadcasting agreement with StarTimes. The impasse saw the Porcupine Warriors threaten to abandon the game, delaying kick-off for about 15 minutes. The club, arguably Ghana’s biggest, ultimately had their way.
The GFA has been quick to issue a warning to the club about any future attempts, drawing a prompt response from Kotoko who held no punches in their reply.
“In your letter, you stated that filming of matches infringes on your contractual obligation with StarTimes Ghana. To this end, we wish to request a copy of the contract between the GFA and StarTimes to enable us to ascertain our rights and obligations and the relevant breaches with regards to clubs filming their matches,” part of the Kotoko statement read.
“If we do not receive our copy of the contract by Monday, November 23rd, we would not be in a position to honor any obligations towards StarTimes since we cannot honor obligations without knowing our rights.
“We wish to posit that your decision to stop clubs from filming matches only for educational purposes is with due respect arbitrary and against the provision of the Ghana Premier League Regulations (2019).
In the GFA’s warning letter against the filming of matches by clubs, it urged clubs to rely on StarTimes for match footage for their performance analysis activities or face disciplinary action.
Kotoko, however, maintains “as a progressive club, we are sorry to tell you that we cannot rely on the post-match footage for StarTimes for technical analyses since it does not provide the necessary ingredients, especially for analysis.
“Should you continue to insist on this absurd, primitive and backward approach to the development of the game, we would instruct you to furnish us with your account details in which we would refund the $5,000 [€4,213] out of the $15,000 [€12,639] you were supposed to pay to clubs as sponsorship packages from StarTimes and also instruct you of our decision to cease dealing with StarTimes.”
The Porcupine Warriors, Caf Champions League winners in 1970 and 1983, are the most successful club in the history of the Ghana Premier League, having clinched the title on 23 occasions.
In the 2019 African Sports Centre for Data Research and Technology (ASC) Ghana Premier League Report, 41 percent of respondents in the nationwide survey declared as fans of Kotoko, 14% more than archrivals Hearts of Oak.
The latest dispute has seen fans of Kotoko launch a barrage of attacks on the GFA and TV partners StarTimes, particularly on social media.
In January, StarTimes signed a five-year agreement with the GFA worth $5.25m [€4.42 million] to be the exclusive television rights owner of the Ghana Premier League.