Breaking: Ghana Premier League returns in October as president Akufo-Addo lifts ban

Breaking: Ghana Premier League returns in October as president Akufo-Addo lifts ban

The West Africans' head of state has given the green light for a comeback for the sport after a six-month hiatus 

Ghana president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has lifted the nation's coronavirus-induced ban on contact sports including football, paving way for return of the Premier League (GPL) on October 30.

While fans will not be allowed to attend training sessions, stadiums will be open to fans when the top flight commences but only up to 25 per cent of a facility's capacity.

The announcement was made in a State of the Nation Address on the Covid-19 pandemic on Sunday evening.

“Towards the progressive easing of restrictions, government has taken the decision to allow the resumption of training in all contact sports, taking into consideration the imminent participation of our national teams in international competitions,” Akufo-Addo stated in the televised address.

“Indeed, some national teams have already been given the dispensation to begin training ahead of their international engagements. All sports people who are camped are to be tested regularly.

“Fellow Ghanaians, with respect to football, after due consultations with the Ghana Football Association, it has been decided that the Ghana Premier League and the Division One Football League will restart on Friday 30th October with a full regime of testing of players, technical and management staff.

“No spectators will be allowed at the training centres and when actual competition resumes, sitting at all stadia will be limited to 25% capacity to ensure social distancing. Wearing of masks by spectators at stadia will be mandatory.

“The restart of all other sporting competitions will be determined on case-by-case basis, pending consultations between the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the respective sport associations.”

All contact sports, including football, have been halted since Ghana recorded its first cases of coronavirus in March.

The 2019-20 Premier League was at the matchweek 15 stage when it was suspended, at the time temporarily. All other national football competitions, including the men's FA Cup, women's Premier League and FA Cup competitions, second tier and third tier championships all similarly came to a standstill.

After three months of waiting without any positive signs on Ghana's coronavirus situation, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) Executive Council took a decision in June to cancel the 2019-20 football season permanently.

At the time of temporary suspension in March, a total of six coronavirus cases had been recorded.

On June 30 when the football term was cancelled altogether, the West African nation had registered 17,1741 cases including 113 deaths, 13,268 recoveries and 4,361 active cases.

As at Sunday September 20, Ghana's active coronavirus case number stands at 554, according to the Ghana Health Service.

As part of the gradual easing of restrictions, Ghana lifted the ban on non-contact sports in June, although in July, the national men and women’s U17 and U20 teams received special permission to regroup for camp ahead of upcoming international games, despite the standing ban on contact sports, including football at the time.

Original author: Prince Narkortu Teye
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