Like many of his counterparts in and around the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL), Humble Lion‘s Head Coach Andrew Price is still struggling to come to grips with the scrapping of the 2019/20 football season. Price, who was enjoying a good run of form in his first season with the Clarendon-based club, rued the timing of the decision by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to declare the season null and void, pointing out that there was sufficient time to wrap up the RSPL.
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That said, Price believes dialogue between the governing football body and its stakeholders requires significant improvement going forward, as a decision of this magnitude should have included all and sundry.
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“The consultation has to improve with the stakeholders of the sport when decisions of this magnitude are made. Have dialogue with individuals in the sport because we all have vested interests.
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“So, I am really disappointed with the decision and believe that it was very premature, having only four rounds remaining plus play-offs,” Price told the Jamaica Observer .
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While acknowledging that health is the greatest consideration, the veteran tactician expressed concern about the lasting financial and mental effects that the decision could have on clubs and their players
The RSPL, the nation’s top-flight league, was initially suspended in March due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
At the time, Humble Lion were sitting pretty in fourth position on 46 points, same as third-placed Portmore United, with Waterhouse FC (54 points) and Mount Pleasant FA (53 points) in the top two slots. Tivoli Gardens FC and Dunbeholden FC, on 43 points each, were in fifth and sixth positions, respectively
“We had set goals to ensure that we were in the top six at the end of the preliminary round and at the time of the competition’s suspension we achieved that goal by being tied for third spot in the RSPL. The table clearly states our consistency throughout the season, but none of that really matters now given the cancellation
“We believe we were well placed in the season to challenge for the title and so I personally feel it for some of the players who are at the twilight of their careers and were looking to grab the opportunity with both hands. It is left to be seen if they will be able to go another round to challenge for a title,” Price reasoned
He continued: “Financially, you will never be able to recover the seven months of investment you made to complete the season. It is a significant body, so once the season is terminated individual club sponsorship will also cease, because people invest to get return on their investments, so if there is no play, there is no need to invest
“Clubs will now have to hope that the loyalty they have with their respective sponsors will remain despite the difficult economic conditions that prevail due to the COVID-19 pandemic
“We have to brace ourselves, because the plain truth is that some clubs will be able to weather the storm and some won’t, and it may be extremely difficult to garner the requisite support to start the next season. So it’s really a wait-and-see game
Despite the season’s cancellation dealing a great blow to Humble Lion‘s chances of securing their first hold on the national title, Price, who is also an assistant coach in the Reggae Girlz programme, lauded his players and support staff for a job well done
For now, however, he said it is back to the drawing board to see how they can continue to improve as a team and attack the 2020/2021 season with the same level of intensity, desire, and camaraderie in a push to compete in the Caribbean Club Championship
“I must congratulate you all on the effort and support given this season; we had ups and downs, but we weathered the storm as all families do. I believe our discipline and work ethic were trademarks to our success. Thank you all for your support and keep the fire burning so that we can be ready to defend the Humble Lion honour when next football plays again,” Price ended
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