Albert Kotey writes:
I write to congratulate you on your appointment to the enviable position which is the Managing Director of the most decorated club and arguably the best club in Ghana, Accra Hearts of Oak .
I also thank you for accepting such a tedious challenge to handle this club . I can assure you that it's your biggest challenge in life . Prior to your appointment, there have been about three previous MDs since 2009 and they all ended up not taken us to the " Promised Land " It may have informed the decision by the board chairman to go in for an expatriate this time round though in my humble opinion Ghanaians are capable of running their own affairs provided we pick the right people.
Mr. Noonan , I have gone through your CV and it speaks success. If what I read is the exact truth as portrayed by board chairman, then Hearts of Oak have caught a shark for just a light soup. If indeed it is the case , then Togbe Afede must be commended.
However, I am not in the known of the picture of Hearts of Oak which was presented to Mr. Noonan that enticed him to join the Phobian Fraternity. Perhaps it is the alleged juicy salary but I doubt because he may be earning more in America considering his CV. Or as adventurous as the Whites are , he joined the club to make a name for himself.
That notwithstanding, I must let him know the reality so that he would not apportion any room for excuses . He must know the "The Real State of Hearts Of Oak "
Hearts of Oak , as an African giant club has a huge and regrettable infrastructure deficit. The club can boast of two "monuments" ; the secretariat at Adabraka and the untouched Pobiman land . It is disgraceful that in the 21st Century, the club cannot boast of a training pitch . The defense by the club that it is not mandatory to own stadium is quiet understandable but not having a pitch you can call your own is unacceptable in modern football . It is an open secret that the Togbe Afede board since its constitution has not added any infrastructure to the club. The only thing I have seen which I stand to be corrected is the periodical painting of the secretariat building. The two buses which were bequeathed to them by the previous board is in obsolete situation . The buses look distressed and punished . We have heard series of postponements of the Pobiman project . In fact nobody knows when it's commencing, not even the board . It will be more disgraceful if you fail to tackle these deficits especially with your background of western race where they take infrastructure seriously .
Business Plan .
Hearts of Oak is a limited liability company. It is also in business of making profits and winning laurels . When you read the successive AGM reports , it shows clearly that the club is far behind its anticipation . But the problem in my opinion is the lack of a feasible business plan . Our turnovers are so bad that they read negative in most of the occasions. It is an undeniable fact that after the sale of Mahatma Otoo which caused some heads to row ,the club has not made any significant stride in the transfer market . We buy masses and sack masses without making profit . We have incurred loses based our mass buy of players and this has played a huge role in our gargantuan indebtedness to the Board Chairman . I can argue on any day that there is no business plan attached to the running of Hearts Of Oak .
The absence of laurels in close to a decade is a major reason for the club's inability to move in its rightful direction. Since 2009 , the club has not won any significant trophy . Hearts have failed to make any meaningful impact in the domestic league and African Club Competitions respectively therefore affecting fans participation and attracting quality players . It may also have affected the brand "Hearts of Oak " in attracting sponsors and prospective partners . Success they say have many fathers but failure is an orphan. A big club like Hearts of Oak do not have any excuse of not winning trophies. They have a good past , history and fame . A proper direction should propel the club to reach the highest height in African football .
Policy Direction .
I stand to be corrected but Heart of oak have not exhibited or demonstrated any policy direction in the past decade . What i see is a mix-bag of decisions and spontaneous reactions by the board and management. I don't see a clear cut policy driving the club forward. As young as I am , I remember the " Musical Youth ,a policy which brought on board young players who formed the bedrock and the direction for the all conquering 2000 squad. I also witnessed the early 2000 era where Hearts bought relatively younger but experienced players who have made marks in the Ghana Premier League . Currently Mr. Noonan, we purchase players from anywhere and anyhow . We are even using our brand and platform to revive careers of players . Most annoying of all is the use of justify players to play competitive matches and later try to sign them . I don't know how a big club like Hearts of Oak propounded this logic.
Marketing, Branding and Positive Imaging.
Mr . Noonan, I know you are aware that Hearts is a big club viewing it from the outside . The club is already on the World map based on its exploits in the past . The club has conquered Africa before and it is the only Ghanaian club to have won all trophies in Africa . However, the situation is currently not the same. The club is struggling to compete all sectors of the sporting divide.
The club has failed woefully in marketing of its goods and services . It's this poor marketing that has failed us in getting partners and groundbreaking sponsorships . I am aware that the board has rejected what they termed as "Meager Sponsorships" from the corporate world . But in the absence of goat meat , chicken can also make a soup sumptuous OR?
Dreams FC are being touted not because they have signed a multi million sponsorship contract but they have assembled a plethora of sponsors which are adding value to the club . Dr. K.K Sarpong in his term as the Kotoko boss used this model and it worked , so why not Hearts of Oak give it a try....
Branding is key to modern marketing. Just some days ago , you attended the Hearts -Vision FC match . You saw for yourself how Hearts were dressed . A club kitted by Barex were wearing Mafro to play a friendly match . I don't know what informed that decision but it's ridiculous. As a Westerner , I don't believe you will continue this unprofessional behavior.
I don't know if you have been briefed about information flow in Hearts but let me gist you .Hearts Communication machinery is very poor . Information about the ins and outs of the club is always in the market than any other club . I knew clubs who have failed to pay salaries of players for close to 7 months but no one knows . This is not to say that you should conceal vital informations from the public but our " nakedness " in the media has given us a bad image and as you are aware , responsible organizations will not associate with irresponsible ones .
We have done worse in merchandising of our brand . Anybody can join three colors; red , gold and blue and put our emblem in ,then he/she starts making money . It's sad that the club cannot factor merchandising in its revenue mobilization. Elsewhere, merchandise play a major role in turnovers of clubs .
However ,I was extreme Happy when I heard that you have called for a stakeholders meeting immediately after you were presented to the club and the public . In many sporting jurisdiction, the supporters are the primary sponsors of the clubs. It's unfortunate that egoism, factionalism and vindictiveness have cut short the historic relationship and participation of the supporters in the success of the club . For Hearts to be great again , the supporters will play an exceeding role beyond your imagination. Don't underestimate their powers and value . They have the magical touch to make your stay in Ghana memorable and your vision come to reality .Join hands with them and listen to them , they mean no harm. They only want bragging rights and some chilled drinks for the weekend not salaries and people's downfalls .
Know that we are Phobians and We Never Say Die. Together we shall make Hearts of Oak Great again.
A concern Phobian
Albert Kotey ,
Secretary, Greater Accra Regional Chapters Committee .(GARCC)