PFAJ, PLCA dispute heats up - Not all clubs against moving to neutral venues for play-offs
Not all members of the Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA) are against moving Red Stripe Premier League play-off matches to neutral venues, according to a source close to the Professional Football Association of Jamaica (PFAJ) and the PLCA.
On Tuesday, Carvel Stewart, vice-president of the PLCA, said that the Premier League clubs are unconvinced that the PFAJ's latest move is in their best interest. Stewart said that the clubs say they would lose significant revenue that can only tbe made during play-off matches.
"The clubs have a major concern about the finances. The clubs believe that they will earn more at their home stadiums than they will earn at neutral stadiums ...." Stewart said.
However, a source who wished to remain anonymous told The Gleaner that the proposal to have play-off games at neutral venues has been part of the rules of the competition for the past three seasons.
The source revealed that in an effort to appease the clubs, the PFAJ chairman Don Anderson allowed the old play-off format to continue. However, after some of the chaos during the play-offs last season, PFAJ decided to enforce the rule as a means of protecting their product.
"Only some clubs profit from play-off games and the PFAJ wants to spread the wealth across the league," the source said.
He noted that 60 per cent of play-off earnings at neutral venues would usually go to PFAJ and 40 per cent to Premier League clubs. However, with the new deal the PFAJ decided to offer the clubs 80 per cent and they take 20 per cent.
"The PFAJ wants better venues, they are protecting their product. A lot of the venues just couldn't accommodate the spectators (last season). Plus they want it to be a good (TV) show as some will be Monday night matches. They want to ensure the play-offs are run properly," he said.
The source insisted that it is better for small clubs to play at a big neutral venue and can get a part of the proceeds. So teams seventh to 12th will get something as they, too, have bills to pay.
"We canít cater for some and don't cater for others," the source added.
Stewart agreed that not all teams agreed with the proposal but says that small clubs need persuading, while big clubs are maintaining their home-and-away play-off games stance.
"They (some clubs) haven't said so (oppose proposal) but they are asking for information to convince them. Some teams are more accomplished with resources, while others are lacking and will find it difficult to hold games," he said.
Improving the Football Product
Anderson insists that the move is for the benefit of local football and clubs and will improve the football product in all aspects.
"No decision has been taken. Ití' at the discussion point at the moment. But the PFAJ feels it would be better for the quarter-finals and semi-finals to go to a neutral venue for a number of reasons. We believe when we get to those bigger matches, we should have larger crowds and there will be certain financial benefits for the clubs involved.
"At a venue like the (National) Stadium, there is a greater control. When it goes to a club venue, maybe they can accommodate four to five thousand people. But some fans might be a bit reluctant to come to watch the big matches," he said.
Anderson added that the PFAJ would also put more effort into promoting and highlighting play-off matches.