Wed | Dec 1, 2021

Premier League clubs seek clarity

Published:Friday | March 26, 2021 | 12:08 AMLivingston Scott - Gleaner Writer
Christie
Christie

Mount Pleasant’s Xavion Virgo (left) and Emelio Rousseau of Portmore United try to head the ball during a Jamaica Premier League semi-final at the National Stadium on Monday, April 15, 2019.
Mount Pleasant’s Xavion Virgo (left) and Emelio Rousseau of Portmore United try to head the ball during a Jamaica Premier League semi-final at the National Stadium on Monday, April 15, 2019.
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Local Premier League clubs are seeking clarity regarding Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ pronouncement that training for the teams will have to be held in a controlled, bubble-style environment, this according to Dunbeholden FC team manager Andrew...

Local Premier League clubs are seeking clarity regarding Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ pronouncement that training for the teams will have to be held in a controlled, bubble-style environment, this according to Dunbeholden FC team manager Andrew Christie.

At a press conference on Monday, Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, declared that Jamaica Premier League clubs would be allowed to resume training. McKenzie noted that training activity must be carried out in an organised manner and that it would be monitored daily by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), as well as other local authorities.

Holness, in his presentation, added that this has to be done under very controlled circumstances, with a limited number of players.

“Training is to take place under conditions which we refer to as a bubble, so it is not like they are training at large,” Holness stated.

However, Christie shared that there was some confusion among the clubs, which are seeking more detailed instructions on how to operate before they move forward.

NO CLEAR DEFINITION

“We want some more clarity so we can start the resumption. I don’t understand what is meant by a controlled environment. There is no instruction or clear definition of how to operate,” Christie told The Gleaner.

He pointed out that Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL) Chairman Christopher Williams has been meeting with the relevant government agencies and that he was hoping to get some answers at Tuesday’s board meeting.

However, that meeting was postponed indefinitely as the PFJL is still awaiting feedback from the ODPEM.

“There is a meeting with the directors of the PFJL, and the Chairman has been in dialogue with the various leaders. So I am hoping that after our board meeting, I will be able to speak in definite and clear terms, but right now, I don’t know how I should react to all of this,” Christie added.

Clubs have been required to seek approval for training since January after the Government stepped up safety restrictions due to the coronavirus spike.

However, Christie argued that Premier League clubs had already established strict health and safety standards for their training session.

He added that if his club was to undertake the cost of hosting a strict bubble, it would take serious financial muscle to do so.

“If we continue to train at Dunbeholden field, is it that only staff and players will be allowed? If that is the case, that is what we have been doing. Or is it a case where we are required to identify an 18-20 man squad and assemble, for example, at UWI in a sort of bubble?

“So I hear bubble-style, but I don’t know what that entails. There is not enough clarity,” Christie said. “A controlled environment will come with an additional cost, which they (clubs) may not be able to afford. So this will eliminate us.”

Williams admitted that the information provided at Monday’s press conference was not detailed but gave the assurance that the full information would be provided very soon.

“There are still issues to be worked out, and we are working with the minister of sports and she is working around the clock,” Williams said. “Don’t presume the structure. We will give you the structure shortly.”

He added that Sports Minister Olivia Grange would make the announcement soon, and when she does, the PFJL and its sponsors would be ready to jump into action.

“The PFJL with the full backing of the sponsors, who have been providing a lot of behind-the-scenes support, are raring and itching to go,” Williams stated.

Premier League clubs have been clinging to hopes of a restart since it was first announced that the league would be resumed last October.

However, that planned start was postponed, along with an alternative date in December, casting the season in doubt.

No local football has been played since March 12, 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com