‘Bubble-style’ RSPL set for 2020 start
Paul Christie, Dunbeholden FC’s board member and team manager, is optimistic that the Red Stripe Premier League will return before the end of the year after revealing plans to have the competition played without fans in an adjusted format, a secured environment, and with all games being televised live.
Christie, said stakeholders were trying their best to make the competition happen this year, and based on what he has seen transpire so far, he anticipates that the newly structured competition will kick-off by mid-November the latest.
“It is almost complete. The sponsors, we are in active dialogue with them and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF). The clubs and the players are on all board, so this looks very possible. There are exciting days ahead,” Christie said.
He noted that the JFF would be providing support from FIFA’s COVID-19 relief funds to help with expenses related to the implementation of sanitisation and hygiene protocols as well as other costs associated with the league’s return.
“We definitely want to start October 18, but if the Government locks down the country after the election (to help contain the spread of the coronavirus), it would push it (start) back to early or mid-November. But we are looking to get started before the end of the year all things being equal,” he added.
NO FINANCIAL SENSE
Christie said the league organisers intend to use the National Stadium and Sabina Park as the two secured venues to host games. However, plans to use a western venue were scrapped as with no western team in the top light, organisers thought it would make no financial sense to do so.
Nevertheless, fans of the 12 teams will all get the opportunity to view their teams live in action throughout the season, which will only have two rounds of games before heading straight into the play-offs.
“We are trying to do something made for TV. Although we might not have any fans, we will try to bring it (games) to the living room of every Jamaican. So you will be able to follow your favourite team as we are pushing for every game (to be televised) on weekends,” Christie shared.
“We are still trying to learn and figure how we can be safe as players and staff as well as the general public while trying to facilitate football. The clubs are buying into what is happening because they all want to play football, but we are also cognisant of the fact that we have this pandemic,” he reasoned.
Nevertheless, Christie believes that a well-packaged Premier League product would enhance the image and brand of the competition.
“If we are putting in made-for-TV packages, the supporters from the wider football community for the first time will see something that resembles a professional setting, and when TV is packaged and the showcase resembles that of a professional or advanced semi-professional product, it is a good thing. So this might very well be something beautiful moving forward,” he said.