By Mark Gleeson
Jan 19 (Reuters) – Ghanaian Premier League side Asante Kotoko want to take as much benefit out of a newly signed co-operation deal with Southampton but reckon the Premier League club will also reap substantive rewards from the link-up.
The two clubs on Tuesday agreed a partnership as Southampton added an African club to a list of teams in the North America, the Middle East, Australia and Japan who are part of their International Football Partnership programme.
“We want to be able to replicate whatever Southampton do in their business, although we appreciate we do not have the same size budget that they do,” Kotoko’s chief executive officer Nana Yaw Amponsah told Reuters.
“We want to ensure Kotoko is as professionally run as Southampton, especially our academy set up. Kotoko’s youth has, for some time now, not been functioning properly and if you look at Southampton, they have one of the best youth policies in world football, producing the likes of Gareth Bale. We want to create that kind of conveyor belt system.
“At the same time, we are looking growing our club commercially. There are global brands sponsoring English clubs that also want to come to Africa.
“We will have an exchange programme involving both our coaches and they will also help us with systems for supporter registration and membership subscription.”
Kotoko, formed in 1935 and twice African champions, are one of Ghana oldest and iconic clubs, with formal links to the Asante kingdom.
“But Southampton will benefit from the linkup too,” insisted Amponsah in a telephone interview.
“We have a fan base of over 12-million people and Ghana will automatically now become a hub for them to grow their fan base here as well. We have the masses, they have a global appeal; either way we benefit from each other.”
Southampton already have a Ghanaian player on their books — the 21-year-old centre back Mohammed Salisu, signed from Real Valladolid in August last year. He has yet to debut for the Saints.
“Once we grow our youth programme, we are confident Southampton will take some of our youngsters too,” Amponsah added. (Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge)
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