Seaga slams PLCA detractors … points to JFF interference
Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Chairman of the Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA), Edward Seaga, is defending the work carried out by the organisation since its inception in 2007 and believes there is an agenda afoot to undermine the league administrators and return top-flight football into the hands of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).
It's been a few nervous days for the PLCA, with today's start of the 2014/2015 Red Stripe Premier League season at one point under threat with at least three clubs writing to the JFF indicating that they were prepared to sit out the season unless their concerns of perceived poor governance, lack of transparency, and constitutional breaches within the PLCA are addressed.
An emergency meeting convened at the JFF's office on Friday seemed to have settled the in-fighting - for now - but Seaga was left frustrated with what he called the "constant interference" of agents of the JFF within the PLCA, who, he believes, are determined to destabilise the organisation in an effort to reclaim administration of the island's top football league to the Captain Horace Burrell-led body.
"From the beginning, we have never found favour with the JFF. It's only because we hold the upper hand in the discussions as to what we have responsibilities for and what they have. We can't continue with this harassment; it's going on for months," Seaga told The Sunday Gleaner.
"The fact of the matter is that the PLCA is the only bright star in the firmament of local football … and it is not a JFF organisation," Seaga added.
"It's (the PLCA) an institution that is now raising $3.5 million per team, per season, as against $200,000 per team, per season when the JFF had control of the league and that is the reason why the PLCA was formed, but it has become an object of envy and an object of strategic initiative to try and get the PLCA in the hands of the JFF," Seaga claimed.
MOST CLUBS SUPPORT PLCA
"Who is leading the initiative? I cannot say, but I know that there are certain clubs working for the JFF's interest in trying to ambush the PLCA in order to get the members of the PLCA to support them," Seaga added before noting that eight of the 12 clubs that make up the RSPL - and by virtue the PLCA - are in support of his organisation's objectives.
But is that the real issue?
Sponsorship-raising successes aside, in letters to the JFF and other local football stakeholders, officials of defending champions Montego Bay United, Sporting Central Academy and Cavalier complained that the PLCA has never presented audited reports since it started operation, that the management practices were less than ideal, that there was a lack of transparency, and that only Seaga was listed as a director in the company's Articles of Incorporation - a breach of its own constitution, which dictates that each club was entitled to one PLCA director.
No election in seven years also ranks highly among the grouses.
"All the audited reports for 2012 have been done. That one has been tabled and they have copies of that. It's the 2013 one that we are now waiting on. It's not in our hands, it's in the auditor's hands," said Seaga.
"Articles of Incorporation? I don't know what the lawyer did there. I have never seen that. If I'm the sole director, I'm certainly not the sole voice," he added. "These are the frivolous excuses to bring about a disastrous move."
Seaga pointed to an incident a few years ago when a high-ranking member of the JFF publicly questioned the PLCA's viability two days before they were to finalise negotiations with then Premier League sponsors Digicel.
It's his view that the comments influenced their negotiations with the league's sponsors.
"When we went to Digicel, who had been giving us $48 million up to that point and we were going to ask for $55 million for the coming year, we got a 'No' - that they were not interested in going forward with Premier League football anymore and that they would turn their attention to grassroots," Seaga recollected.
The story of the PLCA and the JFF's relationship reads like a drama piece and with the RSPL returning today, perhaps there will be a few more chapters before season's end.