More questions than answers, JFF

Regional

More questions than answers, JFF

The Sporting Edge

With Paul Reid

Thursday, October 01, 2020

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Sports— football in particular—fans were in for a dose of good news last week when it was announced that the Premier League football competition would start in mid-November, just about six weeks from now.

The news came at a time when local fans of the game, the players and even the media, had started to ask questions of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) after watching football being played in a lot of other regions.

While the start of the Premier League is a big step forward as we seek to get back to some form of normalcy in this COVID-19 era, there were not enough information coming out of the press conference held by the JFF, and there is a feeling, at least to me, that the organisers are yet to fully think out the way forward.

There are two major issues for me: the JFF and the organisers are yet to work out their promotion strategy; and some of the clubs with financial issues will not last to the end of the season and will therefore put the league in further problems.

One of the things we were told was that at least for the next two seasons, no teams would be relegated at the end of the season, but two would be promoted as they are seeking to get the complement in the league up to 16 teams from its current 12.

What we have not been told, however, which is very important, at least in my mind, is where the teams that will be added next year will come from, as we are hearing that there will be no Super League football this season.

In normal times there was a promotion/relegation system where there are four confederations from which the top teams qualify for a play-off and the top two teams on points are promoted to the Premier League, replacing the two teams that are demoted.

What we have heard is that “we are working out something that will be announced soon”.

What I heard is 'we have no idea what we are doing, but we are going to have the Premier League and then we will see how we can get two teams to add to the Premier League next year.'

It is typical of the JFF to focus only on the Premier League and ignore the other competitions, even the ones that feed directly into the top club competition, a situation that can be likened to what Rene Simoes, a former national technical director, once described as “building a house from the roof down...no foundation”.

The Premier League cannot exist in and of itself, there has to be feeder competitions; like a Super League and possibly just one parish league, whatever you want to call it, a Major League or Division One.

What plans does the JFF and, by extension, the confederations and parish FAs have for all those players who will not be participating in the Premier League, bearing in mind our circumstances, the effect that organised sports has on the young males in our society, especially those who have way too much time on their hands?

The pandemic has further exposed that except for setting up fixtures for leagues to be played, too many of our parish presidents either have no idea how to properly develop the game, or they don't care.

We heard at the press conference that a sum of $1.5 million would be given to each team to help with preparations for the season, but it takes a lot more than that to run a team for an entire season.

The teams that had struggled with funding will find things hard, if not impossible to cope, especially in a COVID-19-depressed economy, and ways must be found to keep them in the league for the next three years.

An official of UWI FC was quoted as saying that with relegation not hanging over their heads, they could use the league to help develop their student/athletes, meaning results were not important.

That is not what the Premier League is for.

The Premier League is the island's top club football competition, a so-called semi-professional league where it is expected that all the teams and players would be competing to the best of their abilities.

If any team is not able to do that, then they should not be playing in that league, and should be replaced. The problem is that the JFF has still not figured out how to do that yet.


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