‘Exorbitant fees’ - MBU threatens to leave Montego Bay Sports Complex
MONTEGO BAY, St James — THE management of Red Stripe Premier League club Montego Bay United (MBU) is threatening to move their home games unless they can come to an understanding over fees with operators of the Montego Bay Sports Complex, the St James Parish Council.
The team was locked out of the facility by the council on Sunday for their opening home game against Tivoli Gardens over the $150,000 user fee for the facility, Orville Powell, the president of MBU revealed to Observer West.
But last-minute negotiations saw a reprieve and the gates were later opened.
Powell told the Observer West yesterday that the St James Parish Council had decided to revert to charging the team $220,000 per game for this season, going back on an agreement made November last year to charge $125,000.
Additionally, Powell said they were being told they owed the St James Parish Council a sum of $95,000 — the difference between the $220,000 and $125,000 they paid for games as of November.
This was out of the reach of the club, Powell said, and as a result they are considering several alternatives to play their home games, including Westpow Park in Tucker, the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium and even the St Elizabeth Technical Sports Complex in St Elizabeth.
Jarrett Park as a home venue, he said, was however out of the question for the club.
The two entities, MBU and the St James Parish Council, have been in an ongoing public squabble over the fees to use the facility since last year, and the traditional opening of the ISSA schoolboys' football season at the complex was in doubt, over the costs being asked by the council until an 11th hour deal was reached.
Powell said the club had paid the council about $2.6 million last season for 19 home games, adding that it could have been more were it not for the intervention of the Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA).
He explained that at the start of the 2011/2012 season they were asked to pay $260,000 per game but it was further lowered to $220,000.
This was still too much, he said, and with the intervention of the PLCA's chairman, Edward Seaga, the fees were then lowered to $125,000.
As early as last season after the change of the administration at the council, Powell said they had meetings with those in charge in an attempt to come to an early agreement.
He said they made several proposals in an effort to share revenues or to lower their bills but none were accepted.
According to Powell, the club was told by the council on Monday that the present fee of $125,000 was not acceptable and they were increasing it to the $220,000 that was asked last year.
Powell said they have asked the Jamaica Football Federation's technical committee to visit their Wespow Park facilities where the team presently trains, to get it passed for games.
MBU will play away from home this weekend, against Humble Lion at Effortville in Clarendon.
Efforts to get a comment from chairman of the St James Parish Council Glendon Harris yesterday were unsuccessful.