Short ‘Prem’ season limits development - Top-flight coaches point to issue with shortened campaign
Several National Premier League coaches have expressed dissatisfaction with the shortened scheduled for the upcoming season, pointing out that the adjustment is not adequate for the development of players.
The 2020-21 campaign is scheduled to begin on November 14 pending approval of COVID-19 protocols from the Ministry of Health & Wellness and will see each team playing 22 games each in the preliminary round, considerably less than the usual 33.
Harbour View FC coach Ludlow Bernard says that while the upcoming season has to be treated as an abnormal year because of the coronavirus pandemic, he hoped that more games could have been included to the regular season.
“It is kind of unfortunate that the amount of games to be played has to be reduced. The circumstances are understandable, it’s not ideal, but when you consider the duration of the playing time from November 14 right up until June 30, that is like approximately seven months playing 22 games,” Bernard told The Gleaner. “Clearly, we would want a lot more. I would probably think or hope that they would have tried to make space for some more games.”
Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) technical committee chairman Rudolph Speid said in a TVJ Sports interview on Monday that the reduction of games does not give players the chance to compete for national team spots.
Humble Lion head coach Andrew Price agrees that a shortened regular season, while understandable in the current climate, will not benefit player development.
“I am not particularly happy with the short season but I understand because of COVID, we have to see it as an anomaly year. But if we are looking at development, then we definitely have to play more games,” Price said. “Two rounds of Premier League games are much too short for development and also much too short for local players to throw their hat into the ring so they can afford themselves for national selection.”
Bernard offered a possible solution to the fixture gap in the playing of a domestic cup tournament during the Premier League season.
“There needs to be a local knockout competition played over the duration of the time just to add more games and add more interest to the sport,” Bernard said.
Price said that another option could be that the Premier League clubs participate in their respective parish knockout tournaments, to supplement the number of games that will be lost this campaign.
Both coaches agree, however, that they do not foresee a return to the normal number of games until the 2021-2022 campaign. Each team usually play 33 games in the regular season. Speid said options are being considered to address the matter.