Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
A number of executive clubs competing in the Red Stripe Premier League have expressed mix views on the proposed changes to the format ahead of this season's competition, which is set to begin on September 15.
However, chairman of the Premier League Club Association (PLCA), Edward Seaga, believes that the changes would certainly bring a lot more spectators and excitement to the nation's top league.
"This is going to be a very exciting league. It is going to be something that will introduce an element of excitement to the programme and the whole formatting of the league and competition," said Seaga, following yesterday's launch of the league, which was held at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) office in New Kingston.
"The clubs' spectatorship is not where we want it to be, except for Monday night, because of the innovation introduced by the sponsors of the league Red Stripe ... and that is one innovation that has helped us to draw more crowds," Seaga added.
He added that JFF's board will be meeting on September 8 to consider the proposed changes.
The PLCA is proposing a new format to be played in a hybrid league and play-off system, where the top-eight teams with the most points at the end of the three preliminary rounds of the competition will then enter a knockout home and away round with quarter-finals and semi-finals games, culminating with a grand final.
Rounds one through to three will consist of 11 match days, each combining for a total of 33 match days for three rounds. The competition will end after three rounds for the bottom four teams, of which the bottom two teams will be relegated from the competition.
However, Harbour View's general manager, Clyde Juriedini, said the new format would be a backward step in the country's football development.
"The league format is the best format because it determines consistent performance over 38 games," said Juriedini. "I understand and appreciate the excitement factor, but I think we can have excitement every day when everybody plays everybody every day, not only just in a semi-final and final," Juriedini said.
Geoffery Maxwell, former national coach, agrees with Jureidini.
"I don't see anything wrong with the league format for it to change," said Maxwell. "But the new format will be trickier and you might get larger crowds at the venues. I think that new format is also about economics and increase of the spectator support of the league."
On the other hand, Brain Rose, manager of Tivoli Gardens, said: "It has its advantage and disadvantage, because the sponsors will get a lot of mileage out of it. The disadvantage is that you might be leading for the first three rounds and when you get to the quarter-finals stage, then you might get knocked out to a team that has been performing poorly throughout the rounds."
Meanwhile, China Harbour Engineering Company has increased its sponsorship of the league from $22 million to $25 million for this year's competition.
Full Caption: Captain Horace Burrell (right), president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), and Edward Seaga (centre), president of the Premier League Clubs Association, accept the sponsorship cheque from Xiao Yan Ming, deputy regional manager, China Harbour Engineering Company, at the launch of the Red Stripe Premier League yesterday, at the JFF headquarters. In the background are players (from left) Fabian Gordon (Rivoli), John-Ross Edwards (Harbour View), Linval Lewis (Sporting Central) and Richard McCallum (Waterhouse).-Photo by Jermaine Barnaby