CHAIRMAN of Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL) Christopher Williams breathed a sigh of relief as he thanked the various stakeholders who have been involved in the 18-month process of returning the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) to its fulsome state on the international football landscape.
The JPL returned last year with a compact staging of just one round and the play-offs, but was increased this year to two rounds and the play-offs in addition to the regular three rounds expected to return for the 2022-2023 season.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Friday, ahead of today’s final between Dunbeholden and Harbour View at Sabina Park, Williams thanked all those who played a part in getting the league up and running once more.
“I want to say thank you to a number of stakeholders. It’s been a rough 18 months. We have gone through hell in just trying to get football [played],” he reflected.
Williams started with the governing body for the sport in the country, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), who have come in for stinging criticism in many quarters.
“I want to thank the JFF. They signed off on the structure of the PFJL so you can’t curse the mother that birthed the child. You can’t love the child and curse the mother,” he insisted.
“We have to applaud their strategic thinking in allowing the child to stand on its own and grow and develop independently — and I want to say thank you to President Ricketts and Vice-President Anderson,” he continued.
Williams also thanked the prime minister and other ministers involved in the decision-making process that allowed for the return of the game after the pandemic.
“I want to also say thanks to the Government of Jamaica, the prime minister, Minister McKenzie, Minister Grange, Minister Tufton for taking a huge chance in giving the entertainment and sporting industry the opportunity to survive and flourish…that is leadership.”
Presenting league sponsors Digicel and their sister company SportsMax also came in for special praise from Williams.
“I want to look back and thank two brave entities, SportsMax and Digicel. We called upon them…and they stepped up and committed for three years, $450 million. We are benefiting tremendously from that commitment.
“The fact that you can be watching these highlights less than 24 hours after the game, the professional way in which the game is covered, the commentary, the editing,” he gushed.
He also thanked members of his board and the clubs and their representatives for the roles they have played.
“I respect the passion and commitment to doing the thing right, and I thank my more experienced partners. They have been stinging but they have been fair and frank — and I thank you for that because I don’t know, and you guys have backed me and given me support behind the scenes to allow us to execute what we have executed,” he said.
Williams also announced that the VIP and VVIP sections at Sabina Park have already been sold out and, due to the anticipated high demand, the George Headley Stand would also be opened, in addition to the North Stand and Party Stand which were already in use this season.
— Dwayne Richards