Player power! - RSPL footballers call for new union
One of the duties of the Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA) is to protect the rights of all 12 Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) clubs, and the welfare of each club’s players. However, some footballers believe that it is not doing enough regarding their collective bargaining for matters concerning their welfare.
UWI FC forward Ryan Miller is one such player, who said that players need a better collective voice, especially when negotiating for salaries and insurance coverage.
“We players locally need a steady background, someone who’s there while we are playing,” he said. “Most of the time, while players here are playing, we find ourselves in situations where we need to negotiate transfers or salaries, and we don’t really have an agent to do that for us, so that’s a big problem.”
Such an organisation, as sought by players, would be administered by players and past players alike, to ensure that those entrusted with the responsibility of negotiating, can do so from a position of experience, having played in the RSPL at some point in their careers. This would be in the mould of the Professional Footballers’ Association in England, which takes a similar membership structure.
Montego Bay United (MBU) player-coach Dwayne Ambusley strongly supports this, especially in light of his team’s past issues with monies owed to it and its players by league organisers.
“Most likely, it would be more beneficial [because] if players have basic needs or issues with their clubs, they could put it to that association,” he said. “The association would deal with their welfare on that basis. Players have always been mistreated in the Premier League, based on what I’ve seen in my time playing here and players that I reason with.”
He went on to explain what that mistreatment consists of.
“Players being promised things, because sometimes, it may not even be in writing,” he said. “Or a club says, ‘This is what you’ll be getting (in terms of salary),’ but because it’s not in writing, they (players) can’t do much.
“Also, in terms of injuries and so forth, certain clubs, you get an injury and it’s drawn out, you been there waiting for some answers on certain things that should be done. Probably, the surgery is delayed and the player doesn’t hear anything about it and gets frustrated and probably moves on to another club.”
Ambusley believes that his teammate Dino Williams would probably have been better served by a more proactive union last season while playing with a groin injury and having his surgery delayed until last summer. While Williams took the decision himself to play through pain until the end of the season, because MBU lacked attacking options, Ambusley said he could have been in a difficult situation. He said that had Williams worsened the injury and then learnt that he had to end his career after surgery, he would have received no compensation or benefits because there is no one bargaining for his welfare.
“He would have been phased out just like that. There’s nothing to represent the players in terms of welfare. In any other work environment, he probably would have had something put in place to protect him.”
Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts said he is all for the idea of players forming their own union.
“Anything that is going to positively impact players’ welfare, the JFF ought to support that,” he said. “We wouldn’t want players to be overbearing and unreasonable, but we would support any initiative that would benefit the players as far as their progress and welfare are concerned.”