The Ghana Football Association has presented an elaborate plan to clubs detailing a road map to bringing football back in the country under strict COVID-19 protocols.
The proposal will see the 2020/2021 Ghana Premier League played in a zonal format, the three-zonal Division One League competition will be further divided into sub-zones (two sub-zones per zone) while the National Women’s League will maintain its current format.
In addition, selected “Game Centers” would be used throughout the competition with two centers per zone and all games played behind closed doors.
All games will be broadcast live on TV.
Players and officials of teams will also undergo two COVID-19 tests – one before the season, and another at the start of the second round of the league.
Ultimately, the plan seeks to reduce traveling by teams, manage risks of contracting the coronavirus, while serving football to as many Ghanaian homes as possible through live broadcast of games.
The proposal dubbed “Football Against COVID-19” has already been sent to clubs for consideration and inputs.
The 2020/2021 season, according to the proposal, is scheduled to kick off in October, 2020 and end in June 2021.
Football has been suspended in Ghana since March 2020, with the GFA canceling the 2019/2020 football season altogether at the end of June.
Below are the details of the GFA’s Proposals:
COVID-19 PROTOCOLS/MODALITIES FOR THE RETURN OF FOOTBALL
The GFA Competitions Department proposes for the return of football in the 2020/21 season under strict protocols in the era of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- a. Game Centers: – Identify television friendly game centers for each competition. Each center must be good enough to accommodate the health protocols (i.e. regular water for washing of hands and bathing, adherence to social distancing, etc)
- Isolation Centre: – Identify isolation facilities close to the game centers to accommodate stakeholders if need be – 30 Players, 7 Technical Members and 5 Management Members, Two Security Attaché, One Driver, One Driver’s Assistant for each team.
- Fumigation/ Disinfection: – Fumigate/ disinfect all facilities. This should be repeated at least once a month. Dressing rooms, in particular, should be disinfected more often.
- Squad List: – Each team must submit their squad list of 30 players, 7 Technical Members and 5 Management Members to the GFA for testing.
- Testing: – Liaise with the GFA Medical Committee and the Ghana Health Service to test all persons directly involved in the competitions before the start of the season and at the start of the second round of the competition.
- Training Facilities: – The GFA shall identify separate training facilities from match centers and schedule training times for all teams.
- Transportation: – The GFA shall ensure that clubs have dedicated buses throughout the competition. h. Match Officials: – The GFA Referees Committee shall submit a list of Center Referees and Assistant Referees who will join the selected Match Commissioners for testing.
- Security: (I) Security would always be attached to each team. (II) There shall be Security Attaché to every official Match Center. (III). There shall be adequate security to ensure that matches are played strictly behind closed doors.
The GFA Disciplinary Committee shall sanction any violation of the protocols and the Regulations
MATCHES, VENUE AND MEDIA
- All league competitions to be split into zones to reduce traveling distance.
- Matches to be played only at selected zonal TV friendly match centres.
- Matches shall be played at appropriate times determined by the GFA.
- Zonal format means congregation of matches at selected game centres for each league category.
- All matches shall be telecasted live on TV thereby making the competition the best medium of reaching out to the general public with essential and educative COVID-19 messages and safety tips.
- Football matches to be played and widely broadcast, assuring partnering companies of mileage.
- ALL MATCHES TO BE PLAYED BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
FORMAT IN DETERMINING CHAMPIONS AND RELEGATION PLACES
GHANA PREMIER LEAGUE
1. The first placed team of each zone will contest in a play-off match for the Premier League Title.
2. The last placed team of each zone will be automatically relegated.
3. The 8th placed team of each zone will contest in a play-off and the losing team will be relegated to the
Division One League.
1. The first placed team of each sub-zone will contest in a play-off match for winner of the Zone and gain promotion to the Premier League.
2. Regional Division Two champions from the 10 football Regions will gain promotion to Division One League.
3. The number of clubs for relegation for each Zone will be determined as usual depending on the relegated clubs from the Premier League to each Division One League Zone and the promoted Division Two teams.
4. The bottom placed team of each sub zone will automatically be relegation.
5. If four teams need to be relegated in a Zone, the 7th placed teams in each sub-zone shall also be automatically be relegated.
6. If three teams need to be relegated in a Zone, the 7th placed teams in each sub-zone will contest in a play-off match and the losing team shall be relegated.
7. The same formula in point 7 & 8 will be use if more teams need to be relegated.
WOMEN’S PREMIER LEAGUE
1. The Women’s Premier League will maintain teams in their original zones.
2. The first placed team of the Southern Zone and the Northern Zone will contest in a play-off match for the Women’s Premier League Title.
3. The last placed team of each zone will be automatically relegated.
In order for the proposal to succeed, the GFA is counting on government support in three areas – accommodation, fuel and medical, to implement a successful plan.
KEY GOVERNMENT INTERVENTIONS
a. ACCOMODATION – A collaboration between Government through Tourism Authority (with regards to hotels) to provide accommodation for participating teams on match days.
b. FUEL – Government through GOIL to subsidize/alleviate cost of traveling of teams as it remains a key component of the financial budget of clubs.
c. MEDICAL – Government /Public institutions to assist with testing.