Where's the action in St Catherine?
Bleachers Report (BR) was driving through St Catherine last Saturday and drove to the Spanish Town Prison Oval to see if there was any game on show, as this venue is the mecca of football in the parish.
All the big teams play at Prison Oval, even Rivoli Football Club uses this field as their home venue in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL). The St Catherine FA also uses this field to host the big matches in their competitions during the preliminary rounds and semi-finals and finals, due to the fact that collection from patrons is possible and the association needs these monies to help fund its operations.
On seeing no game there, BR visited some other playing field. BR will not call the name of the playing field, except to say there was no match organised by the St Catherine Football Association playing anywhere in St Catherine, neither the 14 Major League teams nor the Division One parish competition.
So what are they saying in the bleachers?
The referees association chairman, Worrick Brown, and general secretary Oniel Clayton, after starting the season two weeks late in December because of non-payment of fees, have boycotted again.
Matches as per the revised fixtures were to have resumed on January 3, 2015. These have now been pushed back to January 17, 2015, and still may not start if the FA cannot come up with the $840,000 or a great part of the amount owed to the referees.
The referees' argument is simple, "no pay, no play".
Several clubs met last Saturday, and the leaders are planning to approach the St Catherine FA and demand running the competition better. Some are even talking about a no-confidence motion. Some clubs are saying that no financial statement was published by the association last year, and asked why the referees' fees were not paid when the competition was sponsored.
This year, the main sponsor for four years, LIME, has pulled its sponsorship of the league for new ventures in street football and schoolboy football, and with no new sponsorship in sight, the St Catherine FA is in for another difficult year.
When Bleacher's Report inquired who would step up to take over from president Peter Reid and company, someone said "Ricardo Valentine".
The latter is the current first vice-president of the FA and would find it difficult divorcing himself from the association's failure.
After hearing the arguments in the Bleachers, BR is saying: "Peter, the clubs have no alternative at present, but that could change fast, and the clubs are looking desperately for that one person to take over from you."
You can't say BR never warned you!!
Meanwhile, violence reared its ugly head again at the Edward Seaga Sports Complex, after a red card was issued to Cavalier's Liston James following an ugly tackle. The field was immediately invaded, but the Cavalier players stood their ground in unity. Missiles were thrown at the Cavalier bench, one hitting 18-year-old Nicholas Hamilton, who had to be taken to the Andrews Memorial Hospital.
Cavalier took refuge on the field, and the game was held up for over 10 minutes until order was restored. Up until that point, play was stopped on numerous occasions by off-the-ball incidents, for which the officials spoke repeatedly to the players. But only one yellow card was issued.
After the incident, both teams decided to play football, and Cavalier launched attack after attack with 10 players and got the equaliser in time added on.
Bleachers' Report remembers that there was a similar incident at the same venue last year, December 14, 2014, at the end of the Tivoli-Arnett Gardens match. The Most Honourable Edward Phillip George Seaga, the Premier League Clubs' Association (PLCA) chairman, was in attendance.
Bleachers' Report believes his initial decision to withdraw the Tivoli Gardens Football Club from the Red Stripe Premier League at the start of the season may have been the right one.