JFF awaits venue approval for NPL
Humble Lion FC head coach Andrew Price says that concrete logistics arrangements must be made to ensure the safety of all players and staff to proposed central locations for the upcoming National Premier League season.
The league will play all matches this season in specific central locations instead of a biosecure environment. The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) asked the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) in a meeting last Tuesday to make improvements to their safety protocols regarding the campaign, tentatively set to start on November 14.
JFF President Michael Ricketts said that among the changes the MOHW had them make were the protocols regarding the facilities proposed, which have been sent and which are awaiting approval.
“They were making inquiries about the venues, and, of course, we gave them these suggestions from the clubs that we would go for two premier venues,” Ricketts said. “They wanted to know how many handwashing stations there were, what kind of equipment we have in place.
“Those were the kind of things they were asking of us. So they have been sent, and we are just waiting for the response.”
Price, who is entering his second season with Humble Lion, says it is important that travel to the finalised venues be secured to guarantee safety.
“Transportation has always been provided for the last five to six years by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company, so I would hope that arrangement would again be made with them so that they will be able to transport the teams, especially now that the teams have to travel together in isolation to protect themselves,” he said.
Price said that Independence Park and Sabina Park are two locations being considered to host games. He says that although the new requirements would be costly, it is a sacrifice that teams will have to make for this season to take place.
“Of course, it’s going to impact a lot of clubs’ bottom lines, but in this unprecedented time, the risk and the health of others are much more important,” he said. “So one of the things that we have to do is make that sacrifice to get the games started to play at these neutral locations.”
When contacted, Waterhouse FC President Donovan White said that he would not comment until the health protocols had been approved.
In an interview with The Gleaner on October 22, Ricketts did not mention the specific venues being considered, but he said that the JFF had been in discussions with the respective owners and was optimistic about getting approval for the use of these venues. Additionally, when asked about when the scheduling for the condensed season would take place with the central venues, he said that he was confident of a format that would satisfy all clubs.
“We are leaving that up to the competitions committee,” Ricketts said. “They will work out in conjunction with the clubs as to how best the competition will be formatted, and I’m pretty certain that there will be a consensus among both parties, 0ne that will suit everybody.”