Sat | Nov 27, 2021

PFJL facing massive testing expense

Published:Sunday | April 4, 2021 | 12:05 AMRachid Parchment/Assistant Sports Editor -
Portmore United's Roberto Johnson (left) is tackled by Mount Pleasant's Daniel Green in the Red Stripe Premier League semi-final at the The National Stadium on Monday April 15, 2019.
Portmore United's Roberto Johnson (left) is tackled by Mount Pleasant's Daniel Green in the Red Stripe Premier League semi-final at the The National Stadium on Monday April 15, 2019.
Christopher Williams
Christopher Williams
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With officials from the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL) deciding recently to continue efforts to stage the Jamaica Premier League this season, Chairman Christopher Williams has admitted that the competition's COVID-19 testing protocol...

With officials from the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL) deciding recently to continue efforts to stage the Jamaica Premier League this season, Chairman Christopher Williams has admitted that the competition's COVID-19 testing protocol, which could cost upwards of $47 million, is among the matters to be determined by the body.

The organisation, which announced earlier this year that it has raised around $100 million in sponsorship for the league, must factor the cost of COVID-19 testing for each stakeholder involved on match days, should the Jamaica Premier League get the green light from Government officials this season.

Williams told The Sunday Gleaner that the body recognises the importance of testing ahead of games and that it has made the necessary plans in that regard, based on consultation with the relevant authorities.

"We'll handle the testing," Williams said. "Testing is definite. It's impossible to get approval without [plans for] regular testing.

"The exact frequency, we have not yet finalised, but we expect to finalise that very shortly."

Williams said that a number of variables, such as a controlled environment, would determine the structure of testing.

"I am not the expert on it, but we are guided by the health officials and Concacaf. They are the experts, they'll be helping us and they'll give us the protocols that we would put in place. We ask them to assess the environment and to give us the recommendations."

However, the PFJL and its partners will likely have to dig deep in their pockets to cover the costs associated with the expected regular testing ahead of matches.

Using established leagues such as the English Premier League and the Bundesliga as a guide, tests are conducted twice a week, including one day before matches.

Teams have a choice between an Antigen test and a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.

The Sunday Gleaner found that Antigen tests ranges in cost from $5,000 to $8,000 at health facilities across the island and can return a result as soon as 15 minutes after it is done. The PCR cost ranges from $18,000 to $25,000 and can take days to return a finding.

To arrive at a relative figure to test each stakeholder, The Gleaner made calculations based on the Antigen testing at its least expensive cost, and the minimum personnel required for each club.

Every team is required to register 25 players for each match day. Along with the players, a skeleton staff travelling with the team would require a head coach, an assistant coach, a goalkeeper coach, a team doctor, a team physiotherapist, an equipment manager, a team manager, a trainer, and a massage therapist.

If teams were to apply the most cost-effective method, they would then pay $5,000 per test for all 34 individuals involved. This puts the sum at $340,000. As there are 12 teams in the league, the figure for all to be tested ahead of a given match day would be just over $4 million.

If the PFJL decides that in the interest of finishing the league before July, as mandated by regional governing body Concacaf, the league could be stripped down to a single round-robin format, it would mean each team plays 11 games.

This would then put the figure to test all players and technical staff at just around $45 million for the entire season.

This figure does not yet take the match officials into account. A match official team consists of a referee and three assistants, plus a match commissioner. Each person would be required to test once before a game, bringing that figure to $25,000. There are, however, six matches on each match day, meaning the figure now rises to $150,000. A minimum of 11 match days would take the overall figure to test match officials for the season to $1.6 million.

The PFJL is planning to stage the season in a contained environment or 'bubble' and is hoping to confirm the campaign by April 21.

rachid.parchment@gleanerjm.com