... Wants dialogue on proposed restructuring
WHILE supporting the Jamaica Football Federation's (JFF) move to restructure the local product, the St Catherine Football Association (SCFA) disagrees with certain aspects of the proposal and wants the JFF to meet with their clubs as soon as possible.
In a 53-page document obtained by the Jamaica Observer, the SCFA said their 19-member executive collectively have over 200 years' experience in football management and have put pen to paper on their perspective of the planned restructuring programme.
The SCFA, led by Peter Reid, supports the "bold move" by the JFF, but believes aspects of the proposal will undermine the social nexus between the football fraternity and the communities.
SCFA holds the view that a study should be done on successful restructuring programmes undertaken by football associations globally.
It strongly believes a drastic reduction in the number of clubs playing in meaningful competitions will result in the dwindling of interest, contrary to the intent of the recently launched Grassroots Programme.
They would like to know what criteria the JFF has established to determine the clubs to be kept, eliminated or merged.
"SCFA undoubtedly believes that unguided restructuring will destabilise the social and economic fabric of the communities, especially those within the politically and socially volatile inner-city areas," it stated.
The SCFA believes the clubs which have invested heavily in the sport for many years would be undermined by a hurriedly installed programme.
The SCFA, which was established in 1938 with six clubs and two coaches each in charge of three teams, has grown and currently has 56 active clubs, including the current Premier League champions Portmore United, and over 8,000 registered players.
It has six of the 12 teams in the South Central Confederation Super League and are currently champions of the JFF all-island Boys Under-13 and Girls Under-15 competitions.
But it is not all negative coming from the SCFA as they support some of the JFF objectives, such as ensuring that the sport is developed and promoted consistent with FIFA and JFF objectives; to professionalise and com-mercialise the sport in all its operations and to improve the quality of the game.
This, they believe, will be achieved by improving the level of administrators, players, facilities, coaches, referees and competitions.
They also agree with an economic and social impact study of football in Jamaica; for additional playing facilities to be provided across the island; and for beach football and Futsol facilities and coaches education and licensing system.
One of the main bones of contention among the clubs islandwide is their proposed reduction in an effort to go professional with a two-tier franchise system.
The SCFA outlined the social impact such a move would have on the clubs situated in highly populated parts of the parish where football is a social event that unifies the political divide.
The SCFA is also against the proposed staging of the two professional leagues and says it cannot be sustained by the level of sponsorship available.
The document shows that the proposed 16 professional teams would need a minimum of $20m each, totalling $320m.
Funds from the current parish sponsorship is about $3m times 14, which is $42m, resulting in a shortfall of $278m. "Where will this money come from?" asks the SCFA.
They added: "It is our considered opinion that the PFAJ and the clubs will not be able to find the level of sponsorship to make this venture sustainable, given the economic climate of the country. A good example is the ill-fated National A League".
The SCFA said the reduction in clubs by itself will result in an increase in the quality of play, and drew comparisons with England.
"If we were to benchmark our football product off England's structure, there is a strong case to increase rather than to decrease," it stated.
England has a 12-tier promotional football structure, the first four levels being professional and the others a mixture of semi-professional and amateur league, with all clubs at the lower levels having the opportunity to be promoted.
So after careful perusals, the SCFA recommends:
• That the JFF meets with our clubs to explain the basis and method of restructuring.
• A social and economical impact study to be done before any decision is taken.
• One tier professional league (based on economics) over the next 12 months.
• That a Futsol facility be develop in every parish within three years. That every parish should have at least one beach football facility in two years’ time.