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‘Drop in the bucket’ crowd causes ISSA to shift venue for Manning Cup final

Published:Tuesday | November 24, 2015 | 3:38 PMShayne Fairman
The low spectator turnout is reflected in the George Headley Stand (background) during Saturday's ISSA-FLOW Manning Cup semi-final at Sabina Park. Here Jamaica College's Chevaun Crooks (right) and Denham Town High's Kadeem Williams challenge for the ball. JC won 4-2.

Disappointed with the low crowd attendance at last weekend's ISSA-FLOW Manning Cup semi-finals at Sabina Park, the organisation has changed the venue from the 25,000-capacity National Stadium to Sabina Park for this weekend's Manning Cup final and third-place play-off matches.

George Forbes, ISSA's competitions officer, told The Gleaner that Saturday's crowd attendance was "a drop in the bucket", adding that those numbers would make it unsustainable to host the final at the National Stadium.

Despite a low semi-final turnout, two of the competition's hottest teams featured in last Saturday's semi-finals. Jamaica College stopped first-time semi-finalists Denham Town High 4-2, while St George's College eased past Jonathan Grant High 4-1 to set up an intriguing final.

"It's not a cost factor (stadium expense). We just looked at the numbers that came to the semi-finals, and we couldn't use that number to rent the stadium. It would be a drop in the bucket," Forbes outlined in a telephone interview.

"People always talk about ISSA not giving enough good surfaces to play on, and for the semi-finals, we did, and the crowd was very disappointing.

"Only 11,000 capacity will hold in Sabina Park, so the earlier supporters come out, the better.

"Tickets will be on a first-come, first-served basis," the competitions officer stressed, adding that ISSA's budget for hosting games is drawn up every two years.

Finals day will kick off with a third-place play-off between Jonathan Grant High and Denham Town High at 3 p.m.

At 5 p.m., Manning Cup heavy-weights Jamaica College will lock horns with rivals St George's College.

JC will be looking to defend the Manning Cup for the third consecutive season, while favourites St George's College will be looking to add their first title since 2012.

Admission is $500.