Regional

Serious missteps by organisers mar RSPL

Paul Reid

Thursday, May 18, 2017

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The organisers of the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL), especially those responsible for setting the fixtures, have some serious explaining to do.After a frenetic third round that saw defending champions Montego Bay United play 10 games in a month, immediately following a hectic three games in five days in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) first round, we have seen a total of three games played in nearly three weeks.

This travesty is just the latest in a series of missteps that has marred the smooth running of the competition, and it does nothing to assuage the mindset that those in charge are not really good at organising even a backyard fish fry.

The semi-finals were put on hold to allow Portmore United time to compete in the second stage of the CFU competition, resulting in The University of the West Indies (UWI) FC sitting out three weeks while waiting for the quarter-final play-offs to be completed, and they will have to wait some more after playing one game in a month.

Why was a top six quarter-final section needed is yet another question that begs answering.

The Premier League Clubs Association of Jamaica (PLCA) and the Professional Football Association of Jamaica (PFAJ) continue to come up with unnecessary and clearly not well-thought-out formats that have not helped to improve the dreadfully low quality of football played in the RSPL.

The smart thinking would be to adjust the RSPL fixtures around the CFU/CONCACAF schedule that had been published from at least mid-February. We knew from at least late March that Portmore United would be in action in Trinidad, playing this week.

This should have been enough time for the “smart people” at the PLCA/PFAJ to make sure the teams that had earned the right to still be playing football at this time of the year to get as much help as they could give them.

After all, we want to see the best teams playing the best football at this time of the season. Isn't that the real reason for the play-offs?

Instead, what we have seen are the top two teams in the RSPL, Humble Lion and UWI FC, sitting down for nearly three weeks while the other four teams battle out for the other two semi-finals places.

If that was not enough, after playing one leg of their semi-final tie against UWI FC, Portmore United had to fly to Trinidad, while UWI FC were forced to sit and wait, again.

Anybody involved with football at any level must know that this is not the best way to end a season – not for the teams, not for the fans, and not for the sponsors.

As if to level the playing field, Mother Nature intervened by washing out Sunday's return-leg semi-final between Humble Lion and Arnett Gardens, and so both games might be played closer together so as not to give any team an additional edge.

But Portmore will have to fly back from Trinidad when they are finished with the CFU and play UWI FC who have been resting.

Where is the justice in that?

When the organisers were rushing helter-skelter through the third round and forcing Montego Bay United to be playing games all over the island every three days for a month, had they taken the time to look at the CFU dates they would have known they would have time to allow the team to play their schedule at a more measured pace.

Or maybe they never thought Portmore United were good enough to advance to the next phase of the CFU competition.

Whatever the explanation that will be offered by the PLCA/PFAJ mouthpieces, it will not be good enough.

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