Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Tony Becca | The evils of postponements

Published:Sunday | September 24, 2017 | 12:24 AM
Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA) chairman Edward Seaga (left) speaks with PLCA general manager Pat Garel at last Thursday's launch of the 2017 Red Stripe Premier League.

The start of the 2017-18 Premier League football season has finally been scheduled for today, three weeks after it was suddenly, and disappointingly, postponed without even the mention of a new starting date.

The start of the league, operated by the Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA), was put on hold indefinitely by the Jamaica Football Federation after the country’s governing body said that it was forced to do so because of a series of administrative failures by the PLCA to deliver, among other things, grants to the Montego Bay United Football Club and payments to the referees.

Immediately, the PLCA, through its president, Edward Seaga, denied that it owed Montego Bay FC anything and criticised the JFF for its action. Almost immediately, Humble Lion, through its president, Mike Henry, blasted the JFF for its action, and they both were right.

HENRY FUMING

While former Prime Minister Seaga said that the JFF was wrong, especially since it had known about the so-called impasse between the PLCA and the Montego Bay United FC for some time, Henry was fuming, saying that he planned “to lodge a claim with the local body for loss of income by Humble Lion over the period of the postponement of the league”.

In describing the postponement as an “ongoing fiasco”, Henry stated that his position was based on the “irrefutable fact of the club having in good faith and with all reasonable expectations invested in the preparation of a squad, alongside the requisite supporting team and infrastructural outlay only to now have no avenue or any income over an indefinite period”.

He also said, and this is important, that he is holding the JFF responsible for the present situation, “which is making a mockery of the national drive for the development of local football and the overall business potential of the game at both the national and club levels nationally.”

Whether Humble Lion seek compensation, and, hopefully, he does not, Henry was right, 100 per cent.
In Jamaica, it is as easy as ABC to postpone anything, at any time, and for whatever reason, or for no reason at all.

Postponements are, however, a bad thing. It throws everything out of sync, and before postponing anything, people should think once, think twice, and then decide, except in dire situations, not to postpone, regardless of the temptation or the circumstances.

In sports, especially, there is almost no reason to postpone anything. There is usually enough time to plan, to plan properly and for every eventuality, and if there is proper planning, there is no need for postponements.

Most times, there is really no need to postpone. Most times, for example, when things are postponed because of impending bad weather, sunshine is the order of the day on the day originally set aside.
Most important, however, postponements are bad, and they are bad for the development of sport, and in at least three ways.

Although this latest postponement seems to have helped a few teams that were running late in preparation and, therefore, was a blessing in disguise, when an event is planned to be played on a certain date and is postponed at the last minute, or near to that, it affects those who have trained in preparation for the start.

It also affects the sponsors, those whose money is so important to the development of sport but who may then be made to feel unimportant. It affects other important areas such as advertising and marketing, and it affects those who may have made plans to take their vacation to coincide with the event, those who may have booked flights, and those who may have booked hotel rooms so that they can attend the games as happened a few years ago in West Indies cricket.

Key to development

Postponements turn off players, sponsors, and fans, all those who are key to development, if only because they cannot rely on the organisers who run for cover every time there is a little problem.

The result is that while the players choose to stay with the sport they love and do nothing but grumble, sometimes the sponsors stay away, and most times, the fans stay home because of postponements.
And it goes further than that.

When a postponement, an indefinite postponement at that, takes place, it leaves everyone concerned in a state of uncertainty, and when that postponement involves a match, it throws the whole competition into a mess.

The Senior Cup cricket competition, for example, used to get going as soon as the new year came around.

Good enough

Recently, it can start anytime, from January to March, or later, and without explanation. Matches are postponed for anything, and fans turn up at grounds only to hear that a match has been postponed because of something like a member of the fraternity having died.

In days gone by, something like a minute’s silence somewhere along the line was usually good enough to mark his memory.

The JFF was wrong to postpone the start of the Premier League, and the PLCA and Humble Lion were right for taking them to task for it.

Jamaica’s football, Jamaica’s sports, needs good management, the sort of management that thinks not only about the sport and their popularity, but also about the future of sport and, therefore, about those who play, those who sponsor, and equally, those who watch.

They are the life blood and, therefore, the future of sport.

The Red Stripe Premier League is back in action, and, hopefully, football will learn from the stoppage.

As Don Anderson, chairman of the Professional Football Association of Jamaica, has said: “We looked at some of the regulations and those that needed to be tightened. We did that, and we’re hoping now that we have a unified body going forward.”

So is all Jamaica.