Sunday 23 September, 2018

Arnett Gardens Football Club in turmoil

Member of Parliament Mark Golding says he will not take responsibility for a club whose management lacks accountability and refuses to change.

Member of Parliament Mark Golding says he will not take responsibility for a club whose management lacks accountability and refuses to change.

Arnett Gardens Football Club is in turmoil  as it faces not only uncertainty as to when players will receive their salaries from Christmas, but president Patrick Roberts is blaming South St Andrew Member of Parliament Mark Golding for the club’s ongoing financial crisis.

Roberts said Golding has done nothing to help Arnett Gardens to generate revenue as the club attempts to defend its Red Stripe Premier League title and prepare for the upcoming Caribbean Club Championships.

Golding, however, has declared that he will not take responsibility for a club whose management lacks accountability and refuses to change.

“We are a month in arrears to the players and presently we are trying to work out an amicable position as it regards to the players’ salaries. "Basically we are also in the process of dealing with other expenses that will enable us to participate in the Caribbean Club Championships,” Roberts told SportsMax.tv.

“We usually get backing from the former member of parliament (Omar Davies). Since Mark Golding has ascended to the position he has not given the club any form of resources whatsoever. Hence, we seriously have a financial crunch.

“After the holidays, it’s a concern; the players are human and they have bills and we are trying to see what we can do, but it is difficult when our Member Of Parliament and someone who has the ability to solicit resources for their club and isn’t playing that role.”

In response to Roberts’ claims, Golding admitted that after helping to raise funds for the club during its championship-winning season, he has had nothing to do with the club since July 2017.

“I am not willing to be part of an arrangement where there is no accountability, there is no transparency and so on,” he said.

“I am prepared to undertake the responsibility for the club but I need to do so on terms where I can put the management structure in place that I have confidence in.”

Golding explained that there is a lot the club can do to improve its financial standing. If he is allowed to take charge, he would put more focus on the development of young players and on maximizing available revenue.

“(There is no) proper collection at the gate in an accountable way and there is a billboard portfolio around the stadium that is not being managed,” he explained.

“They just leave them there without proper marketing and refreshing them to make sure they are earning revenue; there is no merchandising being done by the club.

“The club has a very wide fan base but you can’t buy a t-shirt unless one of them does it for their own account but the club doesn’t get any benefit and there is no sustained merchandising programme, there is no proper membership scheme where members can buy season tickets.”

Golding, a successful businessman, said he was more than willing to take full responsibility for the club and help it move forward but there was much resistance to his efforts to bring about meaningful change after he was appointed the chairman of the club by outgoing chairman, Dr Omar Davies.

Meanwhile, Roberts said if he and the management team are the reason why Golding is not helping the club, they are willing to step aside.

“If it is because of Patrick Roberts or Richard Bennett then it is no problem for us to back out and leave it then,” Roberts said.

“I have reached out to him, have sent him emails, WhatsApp messages, text messages, reaching out for him to see what can come about and come aboard to minimize the situation at the club and I have not got any response,” said a desperate-sounding Roberts.

The desperation is with good reason.

“The players are restive. They want to get some assurance when they will be paid.”

Arnett Gardens suffered their first loss of the season last weekend going down 5-1 to Portmore United, sparking concerns that this could be the beginning of a period of player unrest.

The defending champions have not won a game since they recorded a 3-0 home victory against  Montego Bay United on December 14 and have only gained four points from a maximum of 15 in their last five games. Before the 5-1 whipping against Portmore United, the other four games all ended in draws. Two of the four draws came against the two teams in the relegation zone - promoted Sandals South Coast, which are second-from-the-bottom and bottom-place Boys' Town. Both games ended 1-1.