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City of Banjul
Tuesday, October 27, 2020

SHOULD CLUB OWNERS FEAR CHANGE OF LEAGUE?

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The meeting is called by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, MoYS, to collect ideas and suggestions on proposals to effect fundamental changes in Gambian football structures among them, the league. MoYS wants to know whether the focus should be on community ownership of football.

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One of the intriguing proposals it has put forward in the notice for discussion is the plan to change the format of the clubs and their ownership.

Currently, many Gambian clubs are owned and run by individual patrons assisted by a board or group of associates while others are owned by institutions such as the army and other security services and parastatals.

These people  have, through their own resources contributed  immensely to the development of football in this country by providing the single most important thing that makes football attractive to the young people here – motivation. They provided jobs, build careers in academics and other professions for footballers who have the brains.

These individuals and companies pay the salary or and other incentives to players in addition to providing them with materials and of course in return owning the rights to sell them where the opportunity arises. 

Some of have invested and harvested huge amounts of money developing and selling players from their teams. Any attempt to change that could potentially scare club owners. Here is a Facebook posting responding to our invitation for views on the topic:

“Now this is the catch here. Do you think these persons and groups would be keen to forgo this format and surrender the clubs to the communities? Would their relationship with communities be cordial especially when it comes to which group invests what or reaps what benefits?” asked Sulayman Njie, a veteran league club official now residing abroad.

“On the other hand,” he continued, “bringing the communities to be identified with clubs would generate bigger fan base than it is currently. Also, once the community are enthusiastic and involved in the affairs of football clubs as is demonstrated in the Super Nawettan, the politicians, in this case the government, and local authorities would be attracted and provide funding, hence helping to fill the perennial funding gaps for football. It is also going to be a lot more attractive to the commercial entities seeking visibility and promotion for their products,” he concluded.

Moving on, The Standard talked to Karamo Ceesay, a seasoned league club manager. He said the changing of the league format should not necessarily scare the institutional teams since they can still adopt community teams, finance them and enter into an agreement as to how much each gets from the sale of players. “That way, both sides can contribute immensely to football development,” he concluded. The debate goes on.

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