New Montego Bay United ownership plots return to the summit
TUCKER, St James – Montego Bay businessman Yoni Epstein says his ownership team will bring greater structure to former Premier League champions Montego Bay United (MBU) as they seek to build on the foundation set by outgoing President Orville Powell.
Epstein, who runs the itelbpo group of companies in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, and several leading business people from across the city have taken over the two-time former Premier League champions. Powell had been in charge for the previous 12 years.
“I think we’re looking to bring a lot of structure, we’re looking at the continuity to what has been built already,” Epstein, who will fill the role of president, told the Jamaica Observer after the ceremonial hand over at the club’s Wespow Park base last Wednesday.
Epstein said planned adjustments to the model by which players are remunerated should help to improve the quality of the product on the field.
“You know, one of the things I was saying a while ago is that generally players only get paid for eight to 10 months out of the year of the season. Our goal is to pay players 12 months of the year so that their commitment to the club is year round and not just when it’s time to start training for a new season,” he said.
“We feel that is a big support to the players themselves. But outside of that, as as a business, it’s gonna bring a level of structure, governance to the team and make it a business, and it’s not just, you know, a charity we are trying to develop.”
Epstein said he has “a new vision” and “a new way forward” for the football club, which are tied to potentially fruitful commercial partnerships.
“I first want to acknowledge and thank one of our title sponsor, which is Sandals Resorts International, for coming on board and trusting in that vision from day one. I would also like to thank Rainforest Seafoods who has also jumped on board as another title sponsor.
“We have more sponsors that we will continue to acknowledge, throughout the days and weeks to come, that you will hear about. There is no doubt about it, what we are focusing on is not just football, but it is the business of football,” he explained.
The new president said the club’s on-field ambitions will have to match the business aspect.
“Heading into the 2023-24 season, obviously expectations are going to be high. Our fans are going to want the best of us. They’re going to want the best, clean, supportive, and obviously winning football out of our club.
“Our vision is not to go out right off the bat and say we’re going to win the premier league again. We have to look at what we have. We have to build on that. And I will say here publicly to you today that within the next three years, Montego Bay United will be the champions of the Premier League once again. I believe in the foundation that has been built by Orville and his team, I believe in the management that we are building, I believe in the coaching staff, and I believe in our team,” he said.
Epstein added: “We want to continue to bring back that love in the city for the football club.”
He said there will be no mixing of itelbpo with the football club.
“[The itelbpo company] doesn’t bring anything to the table. It’s more myself as an individual and a lover of football that is bringing my business acumen, my connections and contacts and the structure to the club to bring Montego Bay United into the business of football. We’re looking at bringing players into the club, finding ways for them to get contracts in and outside of Jamaica. That [they] will better themselves, their families as well as their ability to earn as a professional football player,” he explained.
Powell said this was the right time to make the transition.
“I’m convinced that I made the right decision for the future. For us to grow we have to change. I’ll continue to believe that life is like a relay, you know. And while a lot of us, you know, will go to the grave with the baton, I think it is most important to pass that baton and continue to be a path that is continuous, to see the glory of that race, and that has always been my intention,” the outgoing boss said.
Owen Hill, the chief executive officer of Professional Football Jamaica Limited, the entity which promotes and organises the Jamaica Premier League, said the move was “an important step in the life of the football club and direction of professional football in Jamaica”.
Hill added: “As Nelson Mandela would have said, ‘Sport has the power to change the world.’ So in our country, where there are many challenges, we know that football provides us with that vehicle for people to be united, for communities to be united, for dreams and aspirations to be materialised.”