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Meadforest president calls for KSAFA board’s removal in light of unpaid prize money to club
Tevoy Colespring (right) of Meadforest FC holds off Barbican FC’s Damian Englishduring their Magnum KSAFA Super League first-round clash at Constant Spring Complex. (Photo: Observer file)

Meadforest Football Club President Dalgalish Henry Sr is vexed that the Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) still owes the club prize money from last season's Championship League tournament.

Meadforest finished second in the Championship League (previously known as the Super League), which it played for a second-successive season. This was in spite of seeking promotion last season to the Jamaica Football Federation's (JFF) National Tier 2 Competition, which provides a route into the Jamaica Premier League (JPL).

To lessen the impact of not being allowed to seek promotion to the JPL, KSAFA offered the winning club $1 million, while the second-place team was promised $500,000, plus an additional $40,000 offered for each match won.

Henry describes KSAFA as "still being in amateur mode" and is calling for the entire board to resign.

"We came second, maybe about five months ago," Henry told the Jamaica Observer. "Last week, they told us they're giving us, maybe, 30 per cent of the $500,000. That roughly works out to $150,000. They took a deduction out of it and gave us $130,000, claiming a deduction for retention fees, or something.

"I wouldn't hesitate to call for the KSAFA board to resign en bloc. They're spiting clubs, they're spiting players. They don't realise their responsibility. They don't realise that football now is a business."

But KSAFA First Vice-President Carvel Stewart says Henry is being impatient about the issue, which he says is not unique to his club.

"All the clubs are being paid over time," Stewart told the Observer. "He's going around bad-mouthing the association now for no good reason. All the clubs are aware of what the situation is and that over time, they'll be paid."

Stewart says that the delay is due to a slow revenue stream.

"The funds are coming in slowly, and as we get them, we try to pay more to the clubs," he said.

KSAFA took the decision to boycott Tier 2 after the majority of its clubs voted in favour, with the belief that it does not provide enough financial support for participating teams. No Meadforest representative was in attendance at that congress to participate in the vote.

"Before the resolution, strong arguments were put up in favour of the resolution, mainly that they could not afford, based on what was said by the JFF up to that time about the Tier 2," Stewart said.

"There's no way they thought that they could afford to participate in it."

But after attending other KSAFA meetings on the issue and not having the matter satisfactorily addressed, Henry took his complaint via a letter to the JFF, who then wrote to KSAFA to tell it that such a decision is unconstitutional.

Real Mona, who won the Championship League last season, is on Meadforest's side about the issue, with its head coach, David Laylor, publicly critical of KSAFA's decision recently. But Stewart says that the clubs played under the understanding last season that qualification was out of the question.

"The competition [Championship League] was nothing to do with qualifying for the JFF one at all," Stewart said.

"KSAFA did not play a competition to qualify people to participate in any other competition. It was a return to football after three years' absence just to bring the senior players into some football at that time. We had the youth players playing but not the seniors as yet. Everybody knew that this had nothing to do with Tier 2 or any other competition like that."

The JFF had given all parish associations until January 21 to submit their representative for the 13-team competition which was set to start on Saturday. KSAFA, much like it did last year, did not make a submission. As a result, the JFF postponed the competition to February 18.

Henry is disappointed also because of how much investment he says the club made for playing Tier 2 in the upcoming season. This, he says, included appointing Calvert Fitzgerald, formerly of JPL team Molynes United, as its head coach, and getting a team bus.

Henry says it became even harder to keep the squad together as several players have left for higher clubs across the island, and two JPL clubs are also now in negotiations for more of their players.

"The players, they want to play for Jamaica, they want to showcase their skills, and they want a decent salary out of the thing," Henry said. "You can't look at them and say, 'Don't go'.

"When it was undecided and we said let's start training, nobody came because they didn't know exactly what we're doing — if we're going back to the 'merry-go-round' KSAFA league. When they heard that we're in Tier 2, at that point, 90 per cent came out. The players are ambitious, they want to go forward."

The ones left behind to play the Championship League for another season are now forced to find other means of earning more income for themselves and their families.

But Henry says there is little KSAFA could do to make up for opportunities lost.

"We're talking about the future of a club, you know," he said. "You can't compensate someone for going forward. Our ambition is to play at the highest level [Concacaf Champions League] one day. Football is an expensive thing. We invested in it and there can be no other compensation for that."

STEWART...he's going around bad-mouthing the association now for no good reason
BY RACHID PARCHMENT Digital sports coordinator

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