Sports

RSPL targets big score

PFAJ wants higher levels of marketing, greater professionalism for new season

BY SANJAY MYERS
Senior staff reporter
myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 14, 2018

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The 2018-19 Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) season was launched yesterday, and stakeholders spoke virtually as one in stressing the need for an attractive product that will fuel the marketability of the country's top-tier club football competition.

Don Anderson, chairman of the Professional Football Association of Jamaica (PFAJ), identified playing surfaces, professionalism and marketing as areas in which the RSPL — slated to begin Sunday — can improve.

“I'd like to see a much higher level of professionalism all around — on and off the field — meaning, in the play and amongst the administration. We're working on that and we are trying to hold hands with the various stakeholders to make sure that we do raise the level,” Anderson told the Jamaica Observer after yesterday's launch at the Jamaica Football Federation base in New Kingston.

“One of them obviously has to do with the standard of the fields. We note, however, that most of the clubs are embarking on programmes to try to improve that.

“I'd like to see a lot more marketing of the sport, but that can only come if they believe we have a good product, and our job is to make the product better,” added the PFAJ head.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) boss Michael Ricketts reinforced that proper playing fields are needed if the quality of RSPL football is to improve.

“First and foremost are the pitches; I saw the pitch at Drax Hall (home of Mount Pleasant) and it is in excellent condition. I know that Humble Lion have done some work on theirs (Effortville Community Centre), and I know that Tivoli Gardens (Edward Seaga Sports Complex) have done extensive work on theirs, so that's one area I do believe that we should have an improvement. Good pitches make good players, so we could well have improved quality as it relates to the product itself,” Ricketts told the Observer.

“Based on pronouncements from our title sponsor and our associate sponsors we are looking forward to a to very exciting season,” the JFF president added.

Edward Seaga, the chairman of the Premier League Clubs Association, while lamenting the challenges of garnering sponsorship, encouraged clubs to do their utmost in upgrading playing fields.

Seaga, a former Jamaican prime minister, also declared that the Jamaica Football Federation has mandated that all players require signed contracts to represent their respective clubs.

Dianne Ashton-Smith, head of corporate affairs at title sponsor Red Stripe, said the brewing company has shifted focus to broadcasting games, while continuing to foster player development.

“Red Stripe remains committed to football, we've just changed up how we are investing,” she told the Observer.

“The partnership with the premier league is more about development — the development of our national sport. We're also going to be doing a player development programme and that's about soft skills, like how do you manage an interview as a star football player and how do you build your own personal brand,” she outlined in addition to noting that Red Stripe's investment for the season is valued at just under $50 million.

The new RSPL season is set to feature 12 teams competing on 33 match days during the league phase. Action then enters a play-off format before the grand final set for next May.

A major highlight on the opening day will be the contest between champions Portmore United and newcomers Mount Pleasant Academy at Spanish Town Prison Oval. The flagship Monday Night fixture has Waterhouse FC welcoming Dunbeholden FC, the other promoted team, to Drewsland Stadium.

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