Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Montego Bay United Football Club (MBUFC) will be seeking to put the disappointment of finishing seventh in last season's Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) firmly into context and will begin the hunt for their first hold on the coveted title with the prospects of playing home matches really at home, the well laid out Westpow Park, located at Irwin in St James.
The club's owner, Orville Powell, told The Gleaner that work on proper fencing has been ongoing at the park, which was approved to host RSPL matches from last year.
"We are just making sure that the fencing is in regulation order to host these matches in complete safety for officials, fans and the players when the season starts," said Powell.
He added that a number of top games will be played at the Montego Bay Stadium at Catherine Hall, which was their home ground last season.
Powell said the 2012 agreement between MBUFC and the St James Parish Council - that all gate receipts for the season go to the council - has seen the club losing $600,000 and that while it had its benefits, it was clear that it would be better if the club utilises its own ground.
The plan, therefore, is for the 2000-seater Westpow Park to be used to generate a healthy stream of gate receipts and to establish the already well-run facility as the true home of MBUFC, with standing room available for a further 2000 fans.
Also, the club has a new coach, Donovan Duckie, who formerly held the reins at Waterhouse FC, among others.
Having retained as much as 95 per cent of last year's squad, Powell is hoping for a strong campaign this season.
"We do not want to be seen as just wanting to make the top six again this season," he said. "Instead, we want to give it a good shot at winning the title. That is what we are planning to do and being successful at home is a vital part of this plan.
"The season will be hard, but when we play we will play to maximise all points and although we still have a young team we are expecting the best from the team."
Powell admitted though that there is a certain amount of pressure on the club's management to make sure of success, based on the fact that MBUFC is the only club from western Jamaica playing in the league this season after Savannah FC of Westmoreland was relegated last season.
Also, Western Confederation Super League champions and former Premier League winners, Wadadah, failed at the qualifying play-off rounds.
"I think more than anything else it's the management here who will be under increased pressure to produce a team capable of winning and certainly being the lone western club in the league that pressure will be even greater. But the upside to this is that our fan base could be increased as a result. But the pressure will be there," said Powell.