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Why Togbe Afede XIV has called off the bluff of Hearts of Oak fans

Last week proved to be an interesting one as far as Hearts of Oak was concerned.

It was at the Annual General Meeting of the club and as the Board Chair of the club, Togbe Afede XIV had to address certain issues.

He has come under fire from fans of the club because since the Initial Public Offer (IPO) of shares was done back in 2011, the club has not won any major domestic honour.

In fact the last time Hearts of Oak won a major title was in 2009 when the club won the Premier League.

As we all know, the IPO was embarked upon to raise an amount of GH¢10 million and Strategic Africa Securities, a business concern belonging to Togbe Afede XIV, acted as the broker for the deal.

Eventually, only about GH¢2.5 million was raised, well short of the GH¢3.6 million targeted to pay off the club’s debt.

Majority of the shares were bought by Togbe Afede XIV, which resulted in his becoming the Board Chairman of the club.

There was a time when the Board Chairman bought about 12 players mid-season for Hearts of Oak and at the end of the season, almost all of the players were transfer listed.

Indeed, things have not gone too well on the pitch.

One such case in point was the inexplicable sacking of David Duncan during Neil Armstrong Mortagbe’s time as Managing Director.

Mohammed Polo was hired to replace Duncan and fan unrest resulted in the former national star leaving the club at the end of the season.

Hearts of Oak narrowly avoided relegation last season and many supporters began raising hell about Togbe Afede XIV’s continued stint in charge at the club.

The pressure probably got to him and so at the AGM last week, he called the bluff of the fans.

He has now publicly stated that handling the club has been a burden on him and so any interested individuals should buy the shares off him.

Now that’s where the problem is.

How many of the angry supporters are ready to put their money where their mouth is, even if the share offer remains the same at GH¢0.50 with a minimum block of 100 shares (a minimum investment of GH¢50)?

Even though the IPO at the time was a good idea, I always felt that it was rushed, with no real feasibility studies carried out on whether the club would raise 50% (GH¢5 million) of its intended revenue target.

I was actually expecting supporters of the club at the time to raise concerns about whether the timing was right to launch the IPO but everyone remained silent.

So why are the same fans angry?

Secondly, if the fans are upset and want to take action, then they should buy the shares off Togbe Afede XIV, instead of complaining.

I remember at the time asking why the likes of Harry Zakkour, Ernest Thompson and other club stalwarts did not buy enough shares to have the requisite influence over the club.

Well, unless someone is prepared to buy the shares, Togbe Afede XIV remains the man in charge for the foreseeable future.

What I was thinking was that the Board Chairman should have exercised a bit of self control instead of blurting out that people had asked him why he was ‘wasting time’ on a club like Hearts of Oak.

Again, Togbe Afede XIV was speaking about the problems the club was going through in recruiting players.

That left me wondering whether he is acting as the Executive Board Chairman of the club.

As far as I know, the club has a Managing Director on Gerald Ankrah who runs the club on a day-to-day basis and so he should have been the one to answer questions on why the club has not made any significant signings in the close season.

What Togbe Afede XIV should be doing is to hand Gerald Ankrah more power and responsibility to run the club whilst he is responsible for policy formulation.

Hearts of Oak at the moment seems like a club lacking direction and that is very sad, given that it is one of Ghana’s biggest clubs.

Whatever the case may be, Togbe Afede XIV will remain in charge at Hearts of Oak but clearly roles have to be defined properly so that the club progresses.

I am still one of the cynics not completely sold on the hiring of Kenichi Yatsuhashi as the club’s new head coach, but I hope he proves me wrong.

I say this because after the IPO in 2011, the club has not had much luck with the coaches hired, with the exception of Duncan who was fired without a good reason in my view.

Hearts of Oak is now a sleeping giant and those in charge would have to take every step to avoid the club slipping into a failure-induced coma of no return.


By Christopher Opoku

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