Jamaica Gleaner / Kwesi Mugisa, Staff Reporter Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Captain Horace Burrell has accused affiliate body KSAFA of jumping the gun as it relates to protestations regarding the proposed franchise system.
Burrell insists the much-talked-about plan to revamp the face of local football is still in its early stages.
The JFF boss, in the same breath, flatly rejected accusations that local football’s governing body had failed to enact the requisite consultation required for such a significant move, maintaining that the process was not only ongoing, but began well over a year ago.
A release, issued by the JFF a little over a week ago, spoke to a directional shift in the local game and a rationalisation process aimed at improving the quality and standard of the local league.
“Franchising of the National Premier League with 10 franchises allocated on an equitable, islandwide basis to ensure access to high-quality football by players and fans right across the island; this is scheduled to be rolled out for the 2015-16 season. The Retreat established a Franchise Committee, chaired by Gary Sinclair, and tasked with the responsibility to pilot the transition; including the finalisation of criteria for the franchises,” the now contentious part of the release read.
JUST A SUMMATION
Burrell, however, declared that the proposal was merely a summation of things discussed in meetings with various stakeholders of the game, and many things, including the number and location of the teams, would only officially be decided once the report of the Franchise Committee was decided.
“Just over a year ago, we had full consultation with all the stakeholders, parish associations, sponsors and members of the media, where we discussed proposed changes in the football landscape, and what was presented at the retreat was a summary of all those consultations,” Burrell told The Gleaner .
“It is how we were in a position to name the task force, with the aim of having further consultations in refining the process and report back to the board, hence our reason for not suggesting our changes before the 2015-2016 season. To suggest that this was all of a sudden is unfortunate and far from the reality. There are 13 parish associations that comprise the JFF, and it is only one of these entities that is reacting in this way. It is disappointing.”
Among KSAFA’s objections, which reportedly stem out of a meeting last week, is the possibility of their current seven top-flight football teams being reduced to three, with a number of historic franchises facing the possibility of extinction. The body would reportedly be in favour of a 16-team franchise. While insisting that it is too early to argue over numbers, Burrell warned against what he deemed could be a myopic view of the process.
“When you have a task force led by senior executive members in Jamaica, I believe you can be confident in the outcome. Maybe you will find that at the end of the day, maybe 90 per cent of the franchises could be from the Corporate Area – you just don’t know. We have our idea of what we want, but are prepared to be guided by the report,” Burrell said.
“In today’s world, the sport is global and we can’t see it in our little space. We have to take a panoramic view. We need proper playing fields, good surfaces … players need to be properly remunerated.We believe that can be realised far more easily under a system like this. You have to look at places like Costa Rica Guatemala and El Salvador, where strong systems are in place. We must do what is necessary or we will be left behind.”
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