Fri | Sep 17, 2021

‘The show must go on’

PFJL presses on with JPL start after UWI forfeits league, considers sanctions for club

Published:Friday | June 25, 2021 | 12:13 AMDaniel Wheeler/ Staff Reporter
UWI FC’s Rochane Smith (left) challenges Mount Pleasant’s Daniel Green during a Jamaica Premier League game at the UWI Mona Bowl on Sunday, March 24, 2019.
UWI FC’s Rochane Smith (left) challenges Mount Pleasant’s Daniel Green during a Jamaica Premier League game at the UWI Mona Bowl on Sunday, March 24, 2019.
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Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts says that sanctions could be coming for the University of the West Indies Football Club (UWI FC) after their withdrawal from the 2020-21 Jamaica Premier League season. Professional...

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts says that sanctions could be coming for the University of the West Indies Football Club (UWI FC) after their withdrawal from the 2020-21 Jamaica Premier League season.

Professional Football Jamaica Limited board member Donovan White confirmed UWI FC’s exit from the competition which begins tomorrow. Because of the withdrawal, White said adjustments had to be made to the fixtures for the season, including this weekend’s matches. As a result, the game between Mount Pleasant and Tivoli Gardens for Sunday will serve as part of the opening day double-header at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence (CHBCE) at 1 p.m. Cavalier and Humble Lion will then play each other at 3:30 p.m.

Ricketts described UWI’s exit so close to the season opener as disappointing.

“We were always in contact, never had the slightest idea that UWI were thinking of not playing,” he said. “We don’t want to destroy any football clubs, but there are sanctions,” Ricketts said. “I can’t share the details right now, but certainly the Competitions Department will now deal with that aspect of it. So we are waiting patiently for it to make recommendations to the JFF.”

NO ALTERNATIVE

UWI Faculty of Sports Dean Dr Akshai Mansingh said the financial challenges of playing this season left the club with no alternative but to forfeit the season.

“We tried at the last minute to see how we could make this work financially,” Mansingh. “The expenses associated with a professional premier league were substantial and the university was not in a financial position to offset the extra expenses beyond what was being guaranteed by the league.

“The university had to make a decision that we could not expend resources that we don’t have.”

Article 7.2 of the 2018-2019 rules and regulations administered by the now-defunct Professional Football Association of Jamaica, says that clubs who withdraw less than 10 days before the opening date of the competition will be fined $200,000.

Mansingh says that UWI’s next course of action regarding plans for next season and beyond will depend on what penalties are levied.

“Whatever the (JFF) wishes to do, or whatever is within their rights to do, is a decision they have to make,” he said. “Clearly, the university will then have to assess it and appraise it accordingly. But the priority right now is ensuring that our students have what they’ve come for, which is the best in their educational experience and the best in their university sporting life. We’ll just wait to see what the [JFF] has to say.”

With the competition now down to 11 teams, White says that there will be bye weeks for each club throughout the season. In spite of UWI FC’s absence, White says that they will not be deterred in their efforts of staging a successful competition.

“Whilst we would have loved to have UWI FC in the competition, the fact that they made that decision, we had to move on because the show must go on,” he said. “We have spent a lot of time planning and working together on this and we are not going to be derailed at this point in time.”

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com

JPL opening weekend fixtures:

Saturday

Mt Pleasant v Tivoli 1 p.m.

Cavalier v Humble Lion 3:30pm

Sunday

Portmore v D’holden 11 a.m.

Monday:

Vere v Molynes 1 p.m.

Waterhouse v Harbour View 3:30 p.m.

*All matches to be played at CHBCE