Football protocol

Sport

Football protocol

Samuda-led committee delivers recommendations aimed at driving Jamaica's football into professional realms

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

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Christopher Samuda, chairman of the recently established Premier League of Jamaica Interim Committee (PLJIC), yesterday delivered its recommendations to the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) during a press conference at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel.

The PLJIC was established by the JFF to review the existing commercial, operational and governance structures, policies, and arrangements of the National Premier League (NPL) and recommend proposals for their improvement and prepare a three-year business plan covering the 2020-21 through 2022/23 seasons. This with a view to generating significantly greater financial flows to support the viability of the NPL and improving all aspects of the NPL.

“As members of PLJIC, we knew then as we know now that PLJIC would be interim in its corporate status, but must be permanent in its vision and impact and generational in its legacy. The diagnosis and prognosis for football would go beyond treatment of the NPL and concern tier two women and men and elite youth competitions, the reservoir from which our male and female national teams emerge,” Samuda said during his presentation yesterday.

He added: “As we took our seats, we were conscious of the fact that we were now embarking on writing the first chapter of the biography of football in these times and henceforth, fully well knowing that the privilege was ours, but that the responsibility and gains would be national. We knew then, as we know now, that by our deeds men and women shall know us, and so from the very inception we signed a code of conduct and ethics that would serve as an organic reminder that excellence in thought and kinetic leadership begins with principles and values that the future in the boardroom and on the turf of the league and the sport must be governed by an ethical script — a far-too-often forgotten index of professionalism and good governance.”

Samuda, an attorney-at-law and president of the Jamaica Olympic Association, also noted that these recommendations are aimed at supporting the JFF's vision and mission by improving professional football.

From the PLJIC's view, football has, with technology and sport sciences, evolved and continues to evolve as a high-tech and scientific outfit of well-conditioned athletes under the instruction of a cadre of technically versed coaches who can no longer rely on sweat labour or natural talent for success, but rather on prowess learned and honed — ball intelligence, spacial instinct, physical analytics, a diet of e-learning of the metrics and mechanics of the sport, virtual and face-to-face transfer of know-how and a chess-like strategic knowledge of the run of play and the field of play.

He posited that success of football demands a robust governance structure that breathes, and that institutionalises ethics, accountability, transparency, independent directorship and judgement but consensual action, stakeholder inclusiveness, collective responsibility, servant leadership, a bill of rights with a Moses-type tablet of commensurate obligations, men and women of principled and original thoughts, words and actions.

The review highlighted that Jamaica's football demands are branding, internally and externally; refashioning, recalibration, re-engineering and customised retrofitting with global functionality if it is to claim market share locally, regionally and universally, and more importantly, if it is to inspire the abiding confidence, enduring emotional taste and the monetary endorsement of consumers across the spectrum of the sport.

With all of this, he stated that football requires practical grass-roots perspectiive that places the player at the centre of the axis around which athlete technical development and matriculation, governance, finance and investment, marketing and branding rotate, and the ordinary mutates into the extraordinary and success.

The recommendations took into account environmental factors and impact — infrastructure challenges; the rise and advent of new sports with a concomitant increase in competition for the sponsorship dollar; increasing operational costs, financiers and sponsors' growing insistence on a “bang for the buck” deliverable amidst economic constraints; stakeholders' expectations; a vulnerable economy, and the novel coronavirus pandemic, which introduced a whole new ball game of climatic deleterious health conditions and in its wake, adverse social and economic impact.

A governance framework with a model to frame the infrastructure for the technical, business and commercial, marketing and branding and grassroot modules.

It gave rise to the establishment of the Professional Football Jamaica League, which signed a memorandum of understanding with the JFF yesterday. This new legally incorporated entity is an assemblage of the clubs and is owned by the clubs. Its structure will be decidedly corporate with a policy making and driven board of directors governed, by term limits and with a management driven business operation, headed by a chief executive officer and a team of professionals.

It will mirror corporate best practices of an independent chairman and independent directors of the board who will be made to understand the privilege of self-governance and the responsibility of unified action.

It will also have functional commissions of the board with rigorous terms of references, with action plans in respect of which members will be held strictly accountable for deliverables and outcomes and with reviewing mechanisms to determine member performance, impact and fate.

It will have a departmental ,management structure of governance and legal, finance, business development, marketing, competition and club development that will compartmentalise strategic goal setting and achievement in an overall operational plan.

There will also be internal legal safeguards which will demand of clubs strict adherence to the tenets of its articles of incorporation and policies, as well as external safeguards, as JFF, the governing body of the sport, in the absence of it having a stake in the PFJL, will have that status and role preserved and have and maintain a strong and practical working relationship with the clubs under the memorandum of understanding signed yesterday.

Also, the policy of the PLJIC will secure and promote improved governance of the clubs themselves by requiring adherence to club licensing agreements which include evidence of legal status, activation of strategic and business plans, audit governance of people, systems and assets and implementation of best practices in management.

The PLJIC's recommendations also include a technical plan, which must organically build, develop and promote the talent of the nation's players using scientific methodologies in training labs and clinical game plans in competitions; must place coaches, referees and managers in the mainstream of development in securing for the system inbuilt and proven competences and expertise; must codify, benchmark and make systemic Concacaf standards, rules and regulations as part of the DNA customisation of the local game; must frame competition requirements of the sport, particularly with respect to the NPL, in encouraging matriculation of talent based on established performance metrics and meritocracy; must, in the wake of COVID-19, systematically infuse health protocols into training regimes and competitions in safeguarding the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of the player; must facilitate the export and exposure of talent overseas; must strategically expand the number of foreign footballers permitted to play for a club in the league for cross-pollination has proven to enhance standards and this will further commercialise the sport which is a critical determinant of growth and profitability; modernise the culture of playing the game into a science-based sport deliverable without discounting its art and entertainment value.

The PLJIC has also taken a global perspective of talent development in recognising that factors including the conditions of fields, the application of the sport sciences, dietary regimes and facility appropriateness underpin success.

For commercial strategy, the primary objective is to transform the league from an over dependency on private corporate sponsorship, the JFF coffers, public sector support and match revenue to self-reliance on revenue earned principally from the exploitation of broadcasting and media rights, commercialisation of merchandise and the monetisation of assets.

The PLJIC strongly advocates home ownership, rights ownership, for the PFJL which will become the repository of rights of the individual clubs for commercialisation purposes under an agreement that will delineate rights which will be transferred to the centre and those that will be retained.

That means ownership of broadcasting and media rights vested in the PFJL must be “in perpetuity” and arterial rights strategically granted and established through enabling licensing or other legal arrangements; that a collective, a unified communications selling model of such rights and an alignment of club commercialisation strategies are advisable and indeed are non-negotiable.

For marketing strategy, the PLJIC proposes to position the PFJL as a well-defined corporate body with a strong governance infrastructure, culture and reputation; with reliable commercial know-how and business experience in which resides significant commercial assets — clubs, competitions, brands, trademarks, sponsorship and broadcast agreements; an industry partner of the JFF as they pursue jointly the business of the growth and development of the sport of football, an “investment house” for the clubs, responsible for the professional management of assigned rights and assets.

The PLJIC comprised of Samuda, Wycliffe Cameron, Denzil Wilks, Orville Powell, Danovan White, Mark Golding, Rudolph Speid, Carvel Stewart, Bruce Gaynor, Wayne Thompson, Peter Reid and Dalton Wint.


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