Horse Racing

Golding crafting Arnett Gardens FC in line with business model

...Chairman says club systematically moving away from political control

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

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Chairman of the Arnett Gardens Football Club, Mark Golding is working feverishly to have the club move away from political dependency to one of financial sustainability.

Golding, who took over the reigns at Arnett Gardens in 2017, told the Jamaica Observer that the days of politicians “running” the club are over.

“I am all about trying to make the club sustainable. I am very mindful of the fact that the history of clubs like Arnett, Tivoli (Gardens) and Humble Lion have a strong connection with the Members of Parliament (MP), and that era has really passed now,” said Golding who is the MP for the St Andrew Southern consistuency in which Arnett Gardens FC falls.

He continued: “Football is different today. The requirements and expectations of fans and players are different. Those days players weren't often paid salaries and the kind of support systems that are required to run a Premier League side are much more onerous now.”Golding, who is the Opposition Spokesman on Finance, says the great challenge of all clubs is to find a path to “sustainanbility”, but that challenge will be more pronounced with those that depend on their MPs for support.

“So sustainability is a real issue for all clubs, but in particular for clubs where the Member of Parliament was the kind of patron of the side,” he reiterated.

Arnett Gardens FC, which is located in the stronghold of the People's National Party (PNP) and which was formed in 1977, has won the Premier League on five occasions in 1978, 2001, 2002, 2015 and 2017.

Golding, who took over as chairman of the constituency from Dr Omar Davies, who served as MP from 1993 to 2016, had to wrestle the club away from former President Patrick Roberts in 2018.

“In terms of governance we have instituted a proper accounting, and for the first time we have financial statements, we have a balance sheet, income and expenditure account, and we intend to maintain that going forward — and that's part of the sustainability of the club because Fifa and Concacaf require that and it is important to do it anyway because you know where you are, and if donors are interested you can show them what the situation is,” he explained.

“So it's a lot going on in terms of the club. We have just signed a MOU (memorandum of understanding) with a company called IT Mining, which is a collaboration of some of Jamaica's leaders in the field of brand development and marketing in sports. They approached us; they liked our products and our fan-based and branding.

“They thought it has great potential and we are always looking to enhance revenue streams, because truth is, every club in Jamaica struggles financially because the revenue from the league, including the sponsorship, just can't come close to covering the cost of maintaining a football team,” said Golding.

Speaking to the Jamaica Observer as guest of the newspaper's weekly Monday Exchange, Golding says a programme geared towards infrastructural development is well underway.

“We are working on the stadium infrastructure as cash flow allows. We have fixed the bathrooms, fixed some leaks that were in the structure. We have improved the gate management processes and that's an ongoing process, and we hope to repaint the stadium shortly and we are working towards that,” he added.

Arnett Gardens is considered one of the better club facilities in the country and will play host to Jamaica's Under-23 team in their Olympic qualifiers involving St Kitts and Nevis and Dominica, between July 17-21. Guyana have withdrawn from the tournament.

But Golding, who previously held the position of minister of justice and Opposition Leader of Business, is also looking at the bigger picture of generating funds for the club through the sale of young players.

“What I am really trying to do at this stage is developmental work to make that happen and focus on nurturing younger players, so that whilst they go through the system at Arnett Gardens Football Club, we try and improve their technical ability, nutrition, physical strength, mental ability and their capacity to function as footballers in the international setting,” he explained.

“What we would like to see is more and more of our players coming to the seniors to showcase, to get the opportunity to play abroad, as that would of course help the club as well as to earn revenue at a different level to what exists,” said Golding.

He said a summer sports programme at the club's Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex home is kicking into high gear.

“A lot of different things are happening and we are presently having a summer camp for youngsters between the ages of 10-13, which is our second year we are doing it. It's a three-week camp where we provide them with nutrition, football and netball training, and teaching them the rudiments of chess to improve their critical and logical thinking and maths and English as well. So it's a holistic camp for them.

“We are not the only club that is trying to do that. it's an obvious business model, but we are really just trying to get our act together,” ended Golding.


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