SUNDERLAND have gone into partnership with Ghana’s biggest club, Asante Kotoko FC, in a bid to extend the Wearsiders’ influence in West Africa.
The Black Cats’ profile in Ghana has rocketed since the arrivals of Asamoah Gyan, John Mensah and Sulley Muntari at the club and Sunderland are keen to capitalise on their growing popularity in a country which is sure to produce many top footballers of the future.
Kotoko has a remarkable eight million followers and on a recent visit to Sunderland, the two clubs chairmen enjoyed positive discussions discussed how they might work together in the future.
From those talks has come an agreement which will see Sunderland share its coaching and business expertise with the Ghanaian club and offering practical support and advice in youth coaching, player development, fitness, medical matters and football business strategy.
In return, Kotoko in turn will work closely with Sunderland to help the club build and grow its brand in the emerging African territory.
A delegation from Kotoko club travelled to Sunderland in April, touring the Black Cats’ state of the art training facility, the Academy of Light, meeting Steve Bruce and players, including Sunderland’s Ghanaian star striker Asamoah Gyan.
They also visited the Stadium of Light and chairman Niall Quinn was delighted to spend time with them.
He said: “It was a huge honour to welcome the Kotoko officials to our club and I’m delighted that we have now formalised a partnership agreement with them.
“There’s a tremendous passion for football in Ghana and I see a real synergy with Sunderland in that respect - football means the world to the people of Ghana and in that respect they are no different to Sunderland fans.
“There’s an infectious enthusiasm for the game that is wonderful to witness and we are honoured to be working with Kotoko and the Ghanaian people.”