The road to bidding for the rights to host and organize the 26th MTN Africa Cup of Nations, and then the hosting and final staging of the highly successful CAN 2008 has all kinds of side stories, including Ghana’s first qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
However, the other story that did not make the headlines was the desire of Abosso Goldfields (Ghana) Limited to obtain the naming rights for the Essipon stadium project or a new stadium for Sekondi to host. of the CAN 2008 tournament.
A traditional chef, who is a friend, had called me earlier to inform me of the company’s desire to have its name linked to the stadium to be built in Sekondi for the fiesta. These discussions took place during the application processes and after a visit by the CAF inspection team to review the four (4) sites selected for the 4-site fiesta – Accra, Kumasi, Tamale and Sekondi-Takoradi.
The two gentlemen from Abosso Goldfields (Ghana) Limited with whom I participated in all discussions were MM. Mike Ezan, then Managing Director, and Tony Aubynn.
In our previous discussions, they had been informed that the sum of the sponsorship we were discussing would not earn them the naming rights on the stadium planned for the Sekondi site, but then they could consider sponsorship of the Black Stars, the team. national instead, especially since we would host CAN 2008; and especially since the team had also qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup hosted by Germany.
After the conclusions of our first meetings and that they had opted for the sponsorship of the national team (s), I paid a working visit to my old friend, then General Secretary of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Mr. Kofi Nsiah.
Before this meeting, the various national football teams had always had problems with shirts for matches and training, whether in terms of quantity or quality.
Indeed, at that time, national teams still had serious problems with jerseys for competitions, all types of tournaments – local, regional, continental and world, and ordinary friendlies. Those were the days when teams could wear a mix – a mix of jerseys: for the simple reason that we couldn’t afford the costs. Worse yet, we weren’t an attractive brand to attract sponsorship from a global kit sponsor, especially since we hadn’t even qualified for a World Cup at the time. We were more or less local champions with the best bets four times, African champions in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982.
I remember an incident when we went to South Korea for a friendly tournament with the Meteors, when we only came back with stories full of stories that we threw a number of matches just for us win jersey sets instead of the trophy.
At that time, we sometimes couldn’t afford local jersey production, mainly by Mingle Sports Wear, at a store near the current Koala supermarket in Danquah Circle, Accra. Indeed, such was our sad state that sometimes they could only deliver the day before a big game on Sunday at Accra Sports Stadium, with the numbering painted or stenciled on the jerseys deep in the night.
We have indeed come a long way as a nation, even with the Black Stars, the pride of Ghana and Africa.
The local choices were not so much that we could afford quality and internationally branded sportswear, but the market itself, supplied by the limited local stores including DG Hathiramani, Sportnet and Jubilee Shops. This meant we couldn’t be confident in the merchandising options.
The story is thus told of how the Ghana team for the 2004 Athens Olympics had Nike branded for the top, Mingle for the shorts and Lotto for the hoes for their boots.
What I was looking to do with the deal I then negotiated with Abosso Goldfields (Ghana) Limited was to create merchandising opportunities with the National Teams branding by providing more than adequate kits for all teams.
So I met with the then General Secretary of the GFA, Kofi Nsiah, to calculate the jersey needs for ALL national teams at all levels and for both men’s and women’s teams. Based on my estimates, the total of the jersey requirements plus the extras for the gifts gave me a total estimate of eight hundred thousand dollars (US $ 800,000.00). I then added the additional two hundred thousand dollars ($ 200,000.00) for miscellaneous to arrive at an annual sponsorship offer of one million dollars ($ 1,000,000.00) for Abosso Goldfields Ghana Limited, because they needed a nice estimate of the cost of sponsorship for the first five (5) years.
This is the story of how the nation got a sponsorship worth a million dollars (US $ 1,000,000.00) annually because not only did I personally negotiate this deal for the GFA , but I didn’t charge them any commission either.
After closing the deal I was informed by the management of the company, with a South African majority stake, that they wanted a South African agency to handle the sponsorship business – Magnus RexDanquah exit, enter EXP Ghana, but I was okay with that just for the historical track record as the person who made the deal.
I had my own issues of the suitability of the transaction, as I was in charge of the 2008 CAN application process and after winning it, I took on the direct management of hospitality and of the organization of the benchmarking event, so I was not worried that the managing director at the time, a South African, decided to bring in an agency from his country to handle the transaction at a rate of agency agreed in percentage.
I left without any noise.
When some Abosso Goldfields staff sought to charge EXP Ghana a commission, a sort of finder’s commission, I rejected the offer.
However, when they sought to launch the deal twice and invited the then Minister of Education, Science and Sports, the Hon. Yaw Osafo Marfo for the function, he did not show up on both occasions, so I was invariably identified that I had used my position in the scheme of things to influence the Hon. Minister not to attend.
Innocent me, victim of circumstances.
I was then invited by the company and compensated, not by a large sum but suddenly the Minister arrives for the third launch date and the rest is history.
In my opinion, they might have thought that I had used my position to convince the then minister not to attend the ceremony.
Over the years, I have remained silent as so many have sought to take credit for their path to glory.
I remember the last sponsorship before this million dollar (US $ 1,000,000.00) deal was a five thousand dollar (US $ 5,000.00) deal for the GFA, only needing ‘a MAVERICK to initiate such a quantum leap.
Indeed, I will never accept to be a NON GRACE person for the reason that it is thanks to this same agreement that I connected to UMBRO SOUTH AFRICA to represent them in Ghana, made me a great friend of the family in South Africa; and why the Black Stars used the UMBRO kit for their first appearance for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
However, when I asked the UMBRO partner to pay the fee as the OFFICIAL KIT SPONSOR while negotiating with the GFA to accept a fee of one hundred thousand dollars (US $ 100,000.00) per year, they thought that it was too expensive and that ended my UMBRO. OK.
As a foray into running the UMBRO sportswear agency in Ghana, I thought it would have been a profitable business to be named the official kit for all national teams. This did not happen and as they say, the rest is HISTORY.
This is the story of how the GFA secured sponsorship from Abosso Goldfields Ghana Limited of one million dollars (US $ 1,000,000.00) per year during its term.