Sun | Dec 5, 2021

TWO FULL ROUNDS, PLUS PLAY-OFFS

PFJL ramps up JPL plans for spectators, more venues

Published:Thursday | November 25, 2021 | 12:08 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Mount Pleasant United’s defender Kevin Graham (left) makes a strong tackle on Tivoli Gardens FC’s Jermaine Johnson, while Graham’s teammate Leonard Rankine looks o,n during a Jamaica Premier League football match at the UWI/Captain Horace Burrell Cen
Mount Pleasant United’s defender Kevin Graham (left) makes a strong tackle on Tivoli Gardens FC’s Jermaine Johnson, while Graham’s teammate Leonard Rankine looks o,n during a Jamaica Premier League football match at the UWI/Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence last season. The PFJL is ramping up plans for next season’s competition, which involves doubling the preliminary round.
Chris Williams
Chris Williams
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CHAIRMAN OF the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), Christopher Williams, has announced a raft of plans for this coming Jamaica Premier League (JPL), including extending the competition to have two full rounds of preliminary matches, as...

CHAIRMAN OF the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), Christopher Williams, has announced a raft of plans for this coming Jamaica Premier League (JPL), including extending the competition to have two full rounds of preliminary matches, as well as the customary play-offs.

Williams said that the PFJL has also filed a request to the Ministry of Local Government for spectators to attend games this season; and asked the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) for permission to start the league in January, instead of the December proposed date.

He noted that they also intend to play the games at various venues across the island, compared to the one venue used last season, the UWI/JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence at UWI, Mona.

“We are definitely going with two rounds and the play-offs,” Williams revealed in an interview with The Gleaner yesterday.

The competition was scaled down significantly to only one round of preliminary matches last season, as Government implemented protocols to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Such measures took a significant toll on sporting activities for nearly 18 months and with the effects of the viral disease less deadly in recent times and the Government easing restrictive measures, Williams said they will also be seek permission to have more venues sanctioned, to have a wider spread of matches across the country.

Prior to the onset of the pandemic in 2019, the Premier League preliminary competition was played on a round-robin basis with two full rounds of matches, plus another set of cross-zone games.

This then would be followed by the play-offs, which would involve the top six teams.

As it played out last season, only one full round of preliminary matches were played and no spectators were allowed. Williams said they will be moving away from that.

ENHANCE THE LEAGUE

“We have applied to the Ministry of Local Government for spectators as we believe it will enhance the league for this season, and we have requested a January start,” he said. “We have made that request to the JFF and we are waiting.”

Only recently, spectators were allowed at the National Stadium for Jamaica’s Concacaf World Cup qualifying football match against the United States. It was the first time since the start of the qualifying campaign that fans were allowed to matches. It was done on the basis that they were fully vaccinated and Williams noted that they have a similar plan for the JPL.

“The plan is to have vaccinated spectators and to move the match weekends around the island. So we want to identify a venue in Montego Bay, in St Elizabeth, we want to identify two venues in Kingston. And then rotate the weekends around those venues, that will allow us to give vaccinated people around the island an opportunity to watch some ball,” Williams explained.

“So each weekend all the teams will go to that location and we will have games on Saturday, Sunday and Monday,” he added, noting that UWI is also in the mix.

“Yes, UWI is being considered. But there will be much less utilisation.”

Continuing, he added: “We think it will be a good step for the spectators to be able to see the games live, the crowds will to help lift the game, and also for the sponsors who will now have an opportunity to interact with the clubs and the league will get additional revenue to offset some cost. That (vaccinated spectators) is in the network, we are very excited about working the ministry to implement that.”

Asked to relate reasons surrounding the January start-up, Williams said: “We have requested January. From a commercial standpoint we get out of the noise of Christmas and give the league the full attention of the public.

It will give us time to tie up commercial opportunities and give the clubs a bit more time to get their house in order. We have made that request to the JFF and we are waiting.”

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com