Fresh calls for franchise football
With this season's top six teams in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) all being based in the Corporate Area, Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts is among those admitting that there is a need to revisit the format of the league to better facilitate widespread development.
Ricketts told The Gleaner that the federation is seriously considering a switch to the franchising method, an idea that was pitched several years ago, but has yet to gather legs.
"Franchising is the way to go. Maybe two or three years ago, a committee was set up by the treasurer, Mr Garfield Sinclair, who was tasked to do a detailed study on franchising around the world and then see how best we can get corporate Jamaica to come on board. We will be having our board meeting on Saturday, and I am pretty sure he will give a report on the status," Ricketts said.
"This is the only way we are going to get a real spread, where each Confed gets its fair share of representation, where we have all the talents on board and not just a concentration in Kingston," added Ricketts.
Ricketts noted that the organisation of the JFF/SportsMax Elite League was done with the idea of spreading the football.
"It was this kind of sentiment why we have the Under-18 Elite League, where we try to attract a lot of young players coming out of school," Ricketts added.
His views were echoed by Hanover Football Association President Sheridan Samuels.
"The reason why it seems like the development of the football is not widespread is because of the structure of the Premier League," said Samuels. "When you have a team from the western end of the island that has to travel to Kingston six or seven times, you put them at a disadvantage because they would have to travel more than the teams in Kingston.
"I think we should move to the franchise system, where all the confederations are represented."
Samuels also argued that teams in the Corporate Area attract sponsorship easier than rural teams, which further gives them an advantage.
"When you are from rural Jamaica and you are not attracting the kind of sponsorship as your counterparts in Kingston, plus because of travelling you would have to spend more, then it is difficult to stay in the league," Samuels said.
The Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) is represented by seven teams in the RSPL for the 2017-18 season. The Western Confederation has three teams, while the South Central Confederation rounds it off with two teams. The Eastern Confederation, which is made up of four parishes, does not have a representative.
In fact, the Eastern Confederation has not had a representative since St Georges Sports Club got relegated after a four-year stint in the league in 2011.