Fri | Jul 20, 2018

Ricketts promises more friendlies

Published:Thursday | September 21, 2017 | 12:00 AMivingston Scott
Michael Ricketts
Jamaica's goalkeeper Andre Blake.

New Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president, Michael Ricketts, said he's well aware that the nation's poor international ranking is affecting the chances of local players moving to England and he is aiming to do something about it.

Ricketts says the JFF will be looking to make the most of international breaks and that an announcement on the next friendly will be made in a few days.

"We are aware of the (work permit) problem, so we want to ensure that we play some more friendlies. We also want to look at having some games at the National Stadium. We must try to win back the fans at the stadium, as in days gone by it was a fortress," Ricketts stated.

In the past two years Reggae Boyz wishing to play in England have struggled to gain access, because of Jamaica's poor FIFA ranking, as work permits in England are only granted to foreign players whose countries are in the top 50 of the world ratings, and for some time now Jamaica has failed to meet the grade.

At the start of the 2015/2016 season, Jamaica's then captain, Rodolph Austin, after being offered a three-year contract renewal with English championship side Leeds United, failed to get a work permit. He moved to Bronby in Denmark instead.

English clubs have also been in the market for Darren Mattocks, Kemar Lawrence and more recently, Jamaica's sensational goalkeeper, Andre Blake. However, they were all unable to obtain work permits from England due to the country's below par ranking.

"We are talking to our agent and we will also be engaging the services of other agents overseas ...we will have an announcement to make in short order," Ricketts promised.

Between 1996 and 2005, Jamaica spent just two years outside the top 50. In 2001 and 2002 the Reggae Boyz were ranked 53rd and 51st, respectively. But they have not broken back into that top 50 since then. The highest they have been is 54th, in 2011 and 2015.