Friday 23 October, 2020

JFF calls an end to football season

JFF president Michael Ricketts.

JFF president Michael Ricketts.

Jamaica's top-flight football competition - the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) - will not complete it matches this season after the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) called it off as part of efforts to help and contain the coronavirus pandemic.

JFF president Michael Ricketts made the announcement in a media conference via  Zoom on Friday morning. He said the 2019/2020 football season has been cancelled and declared null and void.

"The 2019/2020 football season will be cancelled for all levels of competition, nationally, and parishes," Ricketts said. "The National Premier League, the Super Leagues and Major Leagues et cetera. The 2019/2020 season is declared null and void.

"No champion will be declared for any competition and no team will be relegated, hence no team will be promoted. All teams will retain their ranking as of September 2019 and will be eligible to participate in the 2020/2021 season.

"The 2020/2021 season is tentatively set to start in September 2020, and consideration will be given for the adjustment of the 2020/2021 registration periods, including transfer windows."

However, the Reggae Boyz will continue their preparation for the final round of qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Football in Jamaica was suspended on March 12 as a result of an announcement by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to impose a two-week ban on some public gatherings in order to mitigate against the spread of the coronavirus. 

Jamaica has to date recorded 509 cases of COVID-19.

Ricketts said delaying the decision to cancel the season had serious implications for clubs that were already struggling to survive.

Ricketts said, “the JFF was also concerned about the cost ramification for a lot of the stakeholders, especially the professional arm, for delaying a cancellation decision. In other words, the prolonging or procrastination will have an untold financial burden on some clubs.

"Since most competitions have either not been completed or have not yet commenced, like the Eastern Confederation Super League, the JFF is of the view that given the strong position of ‘health first’, the responsible decision would be to annul the current season.

“Therefore, and in order to ensure balance for all competitions, especially those that have a promotion and relegation policy, that the 2019-2020 season should be void and the next season should continue with determinations from the completion of the 2018-2019 season. 

"We appreciate the magnitude of these decisions, but they are being made in good faith and with the focus on health and wellness as a priority over all other considerations. “

Ricketts explained that in light of the events that have led to the cancellation of the season, the 2020/2021 season is tentatively set to commence in September 2020 with consideration being given to an adjustment of the 2020/2021 registration periods and transfer windows, if necessary.

Ricketts stated that the decisions were made “after extensive discussions and consultations that included the JFF Competitions and Regulations Committee, the JFF Medical Committee, the Minister of Sports, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, other football stakeholders and the Board of Directors of the JFF.”

According to the JFF president "the Board held a strong view that the federation should prioritise the health and wellness of all its stakeholders; that is, sponsors, media, players, coaches, referees, administrators, medical staff, and groundsmen over all other considerations.

"Therefore, the committee considered the debilitating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country as a whole, which has led to disruptions of monumental proportions never before experienced in the history of the country and the decision of the Government of Jamaica to cancel physical school gathering for the remainder of the summer term and until September 2020.

“This decision as explained by the Government of Jamaica was consequent to the strong recommendation by the health authorities and based on science, CONCACAF’s decision to postpone and or cancel all its competitions carded up to July 2020, and the international forecast on the COVID-19 pandemic by the World Health Organisation. In short, the world is far from out of the woods.”

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