Premier League delivered the goods — Chris Williams
Spectators enjoying Sunday night’s final of the Jamaica Premier League between Harbour View and Dunbeholden at Sabina Park in Kingston. (Photos: Naphtali Junior)

AS chair of the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), the body responsible for organising and managing the Jamaica Premier League, Chris Williams had a goal to create a remarkable product that adds value and motivates spectators to purchase tickets again.

To achieve this Williams knew that every little detail counts when satisfying the needs of clubs and their players, which would ultimately result in spectator attendance.

So after last year’s truncated season, which was fairly well delivered for the most part, Williams promised they would do different things to achieve better results.

And that they did.

A return to the multi-round format, a selection of venues, and more importantly increased sponsorship, were among the highlights of the just-concluded season again powered by Digicel.

However, it was the spectator turnout for what was an enthralling finale at Sabina Park on Sunday that took the cake for Williams.

Ludlow Bernard’s Harbour View Football Club got by Dunbeholden 6-5 in sudden death penalty, after a 1-1 stalemate in full and extra time, to claim their fifth lien on the title and first since the 2012-13 season.

“I have always had a belief that football is the number one sport in Jamaica and the footballers in Jamaica have to be given an opportunity to shine. Manning Cup cannot be our premier competition — this, the Jamaica Premier League, must be our premier competition and every player must want to play in this league.

“This is what we want and Jamaica endorsed it tonight [Sunday] with a statement, based on the turnout. We said we were going to deliver better quality and we have done that, so thank you Jamaica for responding,” an almost hoarse Williams told the Jamaica Observer.

“There was never any doubt that Jamaican players could deliver quality football. The talent was always there and the players will tell you: ‘Give us a good surface and a proper environment’ and they will shine, and we saw that. We had some top-notch goals and the energy and the passion was also on display. They asked for what they want and we gave it to them, and they have performed. And again, I’m just happy.

“We were also broadcasting live in 26 countries, including the New York tri-state area, and the viewership for this final game was a record — and that speaks volumes of what we have achieved,” he added.

Williams also credited his team and corporate Jamaica for responding to the calls and playing their part in ensuring the objectives for this season were also met, as he stressed the overflowing response from the spectators.

From a long line of traffic on South Camp Road to the packed North and George Headley stands, for a brief moment one thought they were at a high-calibre limited overs game inside the Cricket Mecca.

“To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement; right now I don’t have a voice. I started getting nervous and excited earlier in the week when corporate Jamaica constantly called and were ordering tickets in droves and [were] buying out the VIP section,” Williams noted.

“I told my wife that something is happening and there is a buzz, so when we sold out the VIP area I told my team that we will have to open George Headley because it looks like the final will blow — and by the time we arrived at the venue at midday there was already a line outside to purchase tickets. So again, I must say ‘Thank you, Jamaica, the spectators and sponsors for responding,’ “ he said.

However, despite the overwhelming success Williams is mindful that all was not flawless, particularly in the early stages of the season.

It was with that in mind the business mogul pointed out that he and his team will assess what success looks like and determine areas where they can improve so as to up the ante for next season.

“I know these players would have enjoyed what they saw here tonight, they like the starlight, and so we are expecting to see some more exceptional football next season so look out!

“We are going back to the drawing board, we are going to change up a few things, make some tweaks to improve on areas that we fell down, and give you an even better product next year,” declared Williams who is the CEO/co-founder of PROVEN Wealth Limited (PWL), one of the island’s top wealth management companies.

“One of the things we are looking at is match times. As you know, earlier in the season we were playing a lot of the games at 3:00 pm — good venues and all — but the time was too hot and the spectators told us that they cannot come out at that time, so that’s one.

“Secondly, we want to up the entertainment package outside of the football itself. I think we got it right for the quarter-final and semi-final and also the final, but the preliminary round needs improvement. So, we will work on pushing back the games later under lights and add more entertainment,” he ended.

Professional Football Jamaica Limited Chairman Chris Williams (right) caught in a kodak moment with Harbour View player Romaine Brackenridge after the final of the JPL between Harbour View and Dunbeholden on Sunday at Sabina Park.

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