The General Manager of Division Three League side, Sea Eagles Football Club, Mr Benjamin Ashley, has accused the Greater Accra Regional Football Association (GARFA) of insensitivity, unprofessionalism and plotting the club’s relegation.
Speaking to the Times Sports in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, Mr Ashley said GARFA had failed to showcase professionalism in their dealings and had turned deaf ears to all their protests involving match-fixing – only to be told their cases were null and void.
According to Mr Ashley, there are some clubs that merit favour in the sight of GARFA, hence the ruling body ensures these clubs escape relegation or eventually emerge champions in their respective districts at the end of the season.
Ashley, who was the Team Manager of Hearts of Oak during the 1983/84 season, explained that his club was relegated because GARFA together with the Match Commissioner and referees allegedly agreed to a match-fixing game between Auroras (U-20 side of Hearts of Oak) and Charity Stars played at the Bubuashie Charity Park on week 24 of the Division Two League.
“Our final game last season was against Bayoonic FC and either a draw or win guarantees our place for next season, while Auroras, who were two points behind us needed a must-win against Charity Stars to confirm their stay.
“The games were to start simultaneously across all match venues; but unfortunately, we lost 1-0 to Bayoonic. Our Chairman (SenyoDamalie) subsequently called the Team Manager of Charity Stars (Mr Robert Dowertin) to confirm the outcome of the Auroras game only to be told Charity Stars were up by a lone goal with five minutes left to play,” he said.
Explaining further, Mr Ashley stated that: “Our Chairman received another call to the fact that the Match Commissioner had ordered the game between relegation-threatened Auroras and leaders Charity Stars be played for another five minutes after the regulation time ended 1-0 in favour of Charity; his reason being that, the referee failed to add extra minutes after the stipulated time. Interestingly, Auroras scored two quick goals to end the game 2-1.”
According to the General Manager of Sea Eagles, when the game had earlier ended 1-0, he had a phone conversation with the Team Manager of Charity Stars, who alleged told him that Auroras had promised to pay an amount of GH₵1,000 as bribe to allow the referee offer two ‘dubious’ goals in favour of Auroras, after the match commissioner ordered for the continuation of the game.
The said money, he alleged, was to be shared among officials and players of Charity Stars.
He said the referees (officials) knew about the plot and played to the whistle of the Match Commissioner “who ordered five more minutes of play.”
Mr Ashley stated that, to prove his case was valid, he recorded a voice chat between a player from Sea Eagles and Charity Stars – yet when he filed a protest, “we were told by GARFA to let sleeping dogs lie.”
“When the game between Charity Stars and Auroras ended, a player from my club called his friend from Charity Stars (Di Maria) to ask how the two ‘dubious’ goals came about.
“The Charity Stars player confirmed the referee gave Auroras two ‘cheap’ goals – a controversial penalty for the first goal and the second game when Charity Stars goalie deliberately gave a pass to an Auroras player to score.”
He insisted that all through, the conversations were all recorded.
“Also, when we forwarded the evidence of the phone conversations between our Team Manager and that of Charity Stars together with the players to strengthen our case, the GARFA President Mr Samuel Aboabire, brushed the evidence aside, insisting that the initial case was void due to the Match Commissioner and referees’ reports.
According to the astute football administrator, they proceeded to the Disciplinary Committee of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to seek for justice, “because the game between Auroras and Charity Stars was fixed and had evidence to that.”
Regrettably, Mr Ashley added that, it is over six months since the case was filed, “but nothing has been heard of it, as Sea Eagles will now play in the Division Three, due to the complicity of GARFA, Match Commissioner and referees.”
When contacted on the issue yesterday, the League Board Chairman of GARFA, Mr George Aforklenyuie, confirmed that Sea Eagles Football Club protest was squashed by GARFA’s Disciplinary Committee in view of the facts on the ground.
“However, they (Sea Eagles) have forwarded the matter to the GFA for redress. Should it go in their favour, we would comply by the rules of the FA and do the needful. However, for now, they have been relegated to the third division.”
BY LINUS SIAW NARTEY