Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Follow The Trace | Premier League needs a Super Cup

Published:Tuesday | November 15, 2016 | 11:00 AM
Arnett Gardens' Shawn McKoy (right) shields the ball from Jamalco's Ramone Plummer during a recent Red Stripe Premier League match at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex.

The third season of the ISSA-FLOW Super Cup came to the expected dramatic and spectacular end over the weekend. After some initial trepidation by some of the stakeholders of the schoolboy football product, the growth and popularity of this concept of a 'Champions League' for schoolboy football has worked wonders and is now being fully embraced across the entire football fraternity.

The features injected by the main sponsors, of strategically pitting the best of rural versus the best of urban, and having all the games played on the best available surfaces in the country, as well as presenting a wider fun-filled experience on matchdays have understandably connected and resonated big time with the general public.

The ISSA-FLOW Super Cup despite its relatively short existence, is the fastest growing football-related experience in Jamaica. This rapid growth and impact is taking place in the midst of yet another round of painful and heartfelt complaints by the owners and managers of the local Premier League clubs.

Untenable, unworkable, impossible, senseless are but some of the many disparaging words being used to describe the situation as exists with the clubs in the nation's elite league. Just last week, two of the bigger clubs in former national champions Arnett Gardens and city rivals Waterhouse squealed out in tandem about the crippling financial situation gripping the clubs. Both clubs proceeded to trim the size of their squads and to further cut the already meagre pay packages to their players.

The problems are even deeper than the clubs' inability to balance their books. It reportedly takes in the region of $20-30 million dollars per season to finance the running of a Premier League club with the winning prize at the end of the season being between $2 and $3 million.

 

Negative effect

 

The fact that the Jamaica Football Federation in recent years has basically marginalised the players emerging from the league as it relates to meaningful national senior selection; has had an immeasurably negative effect on the marketability of the players and ultimately the league, which also translates into less and less players gaining the exposure needed to invite significant overseas contracts.

There has long been an emerging sense of hopelessness as it concerns to the viability and sustenance of the local Premier League.

Lots of hot air is still being emitted re: the implementation of a franchise system as the saviour, which is yet to be translated into any semblance of action.

The Red Stripe Premier League is crying out for help but the cries seem to be falling on deaf ears. The league has been relegated to the role of the proverbial 'worthless big brother' being overshadowed by the more ambitious and progressive 'little brothers' the Manning Cup, the daCosta Cup and now the Super Cup continue to get all the praise and the raise.

In that kind of wider context and in a space where there has not been a national senior knock-out competition for several years, a SENIOR SUPER CUP along the conceptual lines of the Flow Super Cup would most certainly give the local Premier League a much-needed shot in the arm.

If managed and promoted along the same lines and with the same vigour, commitment and creativity.

We do have a distinct tendency in Jamaica to en masse gravitate towards ideas that work. There is no doubt that the Flow Super Sup has worked and continues to work at the schoolboy level. In the absence of alternative inspiration, there is no insurmountable reason why the concept of the Flow Super Cup could not work at the senior elite club level. It is certainly worth a try.