Sport

JFF, PLCA to discuss franchise football

BY SANJAY MYERS Observer staff reporter

Monday, May 26, 2014    

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IN the aftermath of recent proposals by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to make changes to the nation's top tier league, the Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA) has sounded the intention to begin dialogue with the local governing body.

In a statement issued on May 5, the JFF, fresh out of a retreat, had announced that sweeping changes are on the horizon for local football, including a revamped club system by the 2015-16 season.

The proposal for the Premier League, the nation's top division, is to transform the current 12-team club competition into a tournament consisting of 10 franchises.

In a part of a follow-up release over a week later, the JFF said that while they are "aiming for consensus" they "will not however deter" from the "intention to make agreed changes".

JFF president Captain Horace Burrell, speaking during last Thursday's Red Stripe Premier League Awards Ceremony at the Courtleigh Auditorium, took more of a passive stance, while urging that changes are necessary for "football to grow" in Jamaica.

Burrell added: "We cannot continue to play club football the way we are doing now... it's not sustainable. But we must work together in coming up with the right formula.

"Our intention is to have meaningful dialogue with all our stakeholders.

"Whenever there are going to be changes there will always be all kinds of comments. But if we are really serious about changing the direction of football we are going to have to move swiftly and decisively."

Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, the chairman of both the PLCA and the Professional Footballers Association of Jamaica, was next to give his speech at the awards function. He immediately addressed the matter of the franchise proposal and agreed that further discussions are needed.

"We are going to talk, and I'm glad to hear you say that," he said as he looked in the direction of the longstanding JFF boss.

In vintage style, the 83-year-old skilfully held the audience's attention as he questioned the JFF's approach.

Seaga said that a previous proposal for a 17-team franchise was withdrawn before declaring:

"We thought it was withdrawn until one morning I woke up and heard we had accepted a 10-team franchise. People were calling me to say 'when did that come about, how did that happen?'

"I had to say 'I don't know'.

"'What is this franchise'? 'I don't know'.

"'Which teams are going to be the new teams'? 'I don't know'.

"Two teams have to go so everybody wants to know which teams have to go. I don't know".

In the midst of laughter coming from sections of the audience, Seaga continued: "I haven't been given the chance to know."

Meanwhile, Burrell reiterated that a task force has been appointed to meet with stakeholders and to explore the possibilities of going the franchise route.

The local football boss added that CONCACAF, the region's governing body, have agreed "to assist in every way possible".

The changes put forward by the JFF are aimed at improving the weak and under-resourced football structure in Jamaica and also includes the establishment of a second-tier national competition which will include the parish champions.

The Federation is also targetting the strengthening of women's football by requiring all parish associations to have at least one women's competition. According to the JFF, measures will also be taken to bolster the managerial and administrative capacity of parish associations.

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