Opinion divided on RSPL format
AS the 2016/17 Red Stripe Premier League season winds down, opinion seems to be divided on what makes for the best format for the local top-flight football competition.
Arnett Gardens will play Portmore United in the final on June 5 at the National Stadium, though neither team won the preliminary stage of the league, which is determined by who has most points after 33 games.
That team, Humble Lion, won the $1 million prize, but was eliminated by Arnett in the semi-finals. Humble Lion's management has signalled its displeasure with the fact that though they had the most points, they are not in the grand final.
UWI FC, who were second in the points standings, were out of action for several weeks, while Portmore United played in the CFU Caribbean Club Championships. UWI head coach, Marcel Gayle, said being idle for so long left them without match fitness.
"We knew this (format) before the competition started. I don't have much to say about it, (but) in the semi-finals, we get to play two games in almost eight weeks. That was my only problem," he told The Gleaner.
Gayle suggested that the Premier League organisers find a way to unify the league through discussion.
"Probably the organisers should sit down and think about moving the football where everybody can come together and feel good about it rather than people pulling one way and other people pulling the other way," he said.
Arnett Gardens coach Jerome Waite said the current format was the best to maintain interest in the competition in the Jamaican context.
"The league format is something that they had in the past and they identified that teams after being the runaway leaders, other teams lost interest and after that it's like the competition flop," Waite said.
"If the association comes up with something like this, it's not something they just push on the teams. It's something everybody agreed [to]. It's not something they pushed down the people's throats," he added.
Premier League Clubs Association company secretary Clyde Jureidini believes the straight-league format was best, and said this format was unfair to teams that played consistently all season.
"This is the fourth format we have experimented with, and I am of the firm opinion that the league format was the best format. It is unfair. What happened is that this system rewards the team that wins the play-off, not the league, but the name of the competition is Red Stripe Premier League, so they have to decide if the league is most important or the final is the most important, and the club who wins the league should be justly rewarded," Jureidini said.
RJR Sports Editor Patrick Anderson is another supporter of the current format. He said that it is a winning formula that could be highly successful, but that the problem was poor management.
"The CFU play-off is there, so you must plan that your play-off is not interrupted. The PFAJ (Professional Football Association of Jamaica) must manage the thing properly to ensure that it is not interrupted. Everybody knows it's a new thinking to position to get to the play-offs, and that's when the new competition will start. It's a question of managing your team and managing your resources," Anderson said.