Ghana Premier League resumes as legal dispute eases

Thomas Abbey of Accra Hearts of Oak challenge Ahmed Adams of Kumasi Asante Kotoko during a Ghana Premier League match. Christian Thompson/BackpagePix

It's been a long time coming, but finally the Ghana Premier League has returned after a long legal battle, with the first round of matches kicking off this weekend after several postponements.

An Accra High Court effectively gave the green light earlier this week when they threw out an injunction by relegated Accra Great Olympics before the Ghana Football Association declared the 2018 season would kick off this weekend, despite the threat of a further injunction.

Olympics claim there are outstanding disciplinary cases which, if properly dealt with, would preserve their place in the top flight. They have petitioned FIFA to look into the matter and ultimately have them reinstated in the top flight, while the battle has also stretched to the domestic courts.

The dispute postponed the league's kick-off, and dented the reputation of Ghanaian football.

"Potential sponsors will surely be dissuaded by these things," Ibrahim Sannie-Daara, Communications Manager of the Ghana Football Association, told KweséESPN.

"Our clubs and players have had their plans derailed, while our quest to align our calendar with Europe has been tossed out of the window."

The delay means that Ghanaian top flight fixtures could be played during the World Cup in June.

"We will forge ahead with a tight calendar and consider playing during the World Cup to save time," Sannie-Daara added. "If that's the case, we will apply to FIFA for an exemption since we will not be at the tournament."

Derailed by the legal dispute, the clubs are just happy that league action is back again.

"We've effectively been running a full operations and paying bills without the opportunity to earn money because we were not playing so this is a huge relief," Albert Commey, Chief Executive Officer of Aduana Stars told KweséESPN.

"Training and not playing games is odd so I am delighted that we can play again and hopefully do better than we did last season," added Ashanti Gold coach C.K Akunnor.

The Obuasi club kicked off their season by defeating the champions from two seasons ago Wa All Stars 1-0 at home, a result which augurs well for their desire to avoid another relegation battle. Inter Allies, with former Hearts of Oak boss Kenichi Yatsuhashi in charge, thumped Bechem United 3-0 in Tema on Saturday to get the season rolling, while Asante Kotoko were held 1-1 at WAFA.

Accra Hearts of Oak also drew 1-1 in Techiman against Eleven Wonders, making their GPL debut, while newly promoted Dreams FC defeated Elima Sharks 1-0.

Karela FC, another new face in the division, were defeated 1-0 at SC Medeama, and Ebusua Dwarfs beat Berekim Chelsea 1-0.