Sat | Dec 5, 2020

Premier League boost - JFF provides relief for clubs ahead of planned November restart

Published:Wednesday | September 23, 2020 | 12:13 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Seated from left: Donovan White, president of Waterhouse FC; Paul Christie, team manager of Dunbeholden FC; Michael Ricketts, president of Jamaica Football Federation (JFF); and Dalton Wint, general secretary of JFF, sign a memorandum of understanding rela
Seated from left: Donovan White, president of Waterhouse FC; Paul Christie, team manager of Dunbeholden FC; Michael Ricketts, president of Jamaica Football Federation (JFF); and Dalton Wint, general secretary of JFF, sign a memorandum of understanding relating to the start of the 2020-21 Premier League season at The Jamaica Pegasus hotl yesterday. Looking on (standing from left) are Howard McIntosh; Christopher Samuda, chairman of Premier League of Jamaica Interim Committee; Raymond Anderson, vice-president of JFF; and Peter Reid.
Dunbeholden’s Kevin Reid (left) puts in a challenge on Tivoli Gardens’ Jamie Robinson during a Red Stripe Premier League encounter at the Edward Seaga Sports Complex on Sunday, October 20, 2019.
Dunbeholden’s Kevin Reid (left) puts in a challenge on Tivoli Gardens’ Jamie Robinson during a Red Stripe Premier League encounter at the Edward Seaga Sports Complex on Sunday, October 20, 2019.
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National Premier League clubs will soon receive financial assistance to the tune of $35 million, as they prepare for the upcoming top-flight season, which is set to begin on November 14 and end on June 30, 2021.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts made the announcement at a press conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday, while disclosing the details of the 2020-21 campaign. A memorandum of understanding was also signed between the JFF and the clubs.

According to Ricketts US$250,000 (J$35.5 million) will be allocated from the COVID-19 relief fund, supplied by world governing body FIFA, to cover expenses for the league’s return, as well as other expenses caused by the stoppage in local football because of the pandemic.

“Specifically, each of the 12 clubs will receive $1.2 million and an additional amount will be used to cover some costs that would have been incurred during the downtime and relating to administration of the league including some outstanding debts,” Ricketts said.

The previous season was suspended in March and subsequently cancelled in May because of the virus.

Meanwhile, Molynes United president Herman Cruickshank and Tivoli Gardens head coach Philip Williams welcomed the financial support for the clubs, with both expressing that it will give their season preparations a much-needed boost.

“With the announcement from the JFF, I think it is good to offset some of the cost. [But] clubs have to be very careful how you start to spend,” Cruickshank said. “It’s not like a case where you have money coming every month from a particular source.”

WELCOMED FUNDS

“The clubs are going through some financial situations. [The funds] is something that is welcomed now and definitely that will offset some of the cost where this new norm is concerned,” Williams added.

Additionally, Ricketts said that the parish associations are expected to receive nearly $3 million of COVID-19 relief from the fund.

Among the changes to the 2020-21 format, only two rounds of games will be played in the regular season before play-offs. As part of the health protocols that are to be finalised next week, games are to be played in central locations with the Ministry of Health & Wellness determining if fans will be allowed to attend.

Ricketts said that COVID-19 testing for players and staff will begin on Monday and another test will be done before the November 14 kick-off. Approximately 600 persons will be tested during this process.

There will also be no relegation in the next two seasons. Promotion will, however, take place with the top two teams from the lower tier moving up, which will expand the league to 16 teams by 2022.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com