By Zaheer E. Clarke
Written April 27, 2016
Published May 2, 2016
Herbert Morrison old boy and President/CEO of the Montego Bay United Football Club, Orville Powell, sent shock waves throughout Jamaica football circles, when he threatened last week to withdraw his team, Montego Bay United, from yesterday’s Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) final.
This threat, as iterated by Powell, has to do with a shift from the norms of the last two editions of the RSPL finals, which were played during TV’s prime time, 7-10 p.m.. The 2014 final and the 2015 final were both played at the National Stadium in Kingston with TV coverage of each beginning at 8:30 p.m. This year the organizers, the Professional Footballers’ Association of Jamaica (PFAJ), shifted the final to the Catherine Hall Sports Complex, Montego Bay United’s backyard, and scheduled the game for yesterday at 4 p.m..
Powell was up in arms last week and bemoaned the lack of consultation with regard to the start time of the match. He hinted at a lack of respect from the organizers and lack of thought for the fans coming to watch the match and his team (or the teams) participating in the finals. If it’s one thing “Facts, Lies & Statistics” column supports, it’s consultations and more consultations. We have seen what a lack of it has done to West Indies Cricket.
It has been common knowledge that those organizations rooted in Kingston, oftentimes, plan events in Montego Bay and other sections of the island without consultations with the locals, or an understanding of the culture of the locals in the respective areas. This usually results in these events being considered flops and the organizers bewildered as to the lack of attendance and financial successes. As we often remind them, Kingston is not Jamaica and Montego Bay is not like Kingston.
Nevertheless, this event is not a Montego Bay event per se, but a national event that will have individuals from all across the island, not just Montego Bay, coming to watch the spectacle of the final.
The PFAJ seemingly indicated last week that the start time was based on generating maximum revenue from TV rights deals, among other things, and was in consultation with their sponsors and stakeholders. To be frank, the PFAJ doesn’t have to consult with participating teams in the final, but merely needs to inform them of when and where, though they could consult out of courtesy.
Fans in some circles had sided with Powell and bespoke their displeasure if they were forced to watch the match in the hot sun or the ‘sun hot’ as they put it. However, when I checked the weather forecast a week ago, yesterday afternoon, specifically the time during the final had a 69 percent chance of showers. So, the ‘sun hot’ was not a guarantee like all weather forecasts.
If the new generation of fans of Montego Bay United and Jamaican football are prime time, nighttime or cool weather fans only, then it would be in stark contrast to the loyal old fans of Beacon and especially Seba, the names once held by the Montego Bay United Football Club. Montego Bay United fans and fans of football in Jamaica must be prepared to support their teams anywhere and anytime and the players prepared to play any place and anytime.
Categorically, I disagreed with Powell’s cornered approach. The match being in Montego Bay alone should be an incentive for the fans who missed out on travelling to Kingston in support of their team the past two years, to do so now. If the match is scheduled for 10 a.m. or 12 noon, in the sun or in the rain, they should be there in full support. Fans of teams in the English Premier League (EPL) show up for their team’s games at 1, 3 or 4 p.m. local times in the sun, snow and rain. Jamaican fans should show no indifference despite not having snow to contend with.
Since 2011, when Powell acquired the club, changed its name and brand, Montego Bay United has seen marked success with this its third final in consecutive years. Arnett Gardens is the only other team over that period that can boast of making the semi-finals three years running much more the finals. Henceforth, Powell and his team must be doing something right.
However, I question whether the stance by Powell wasn’t a spectacle and an unnecessary distraction for his team, the fans, and the final. If Mobay United played yesterday and lost, Powell’s detractors will attempt to burn his career in football at the stakes. On the other hand, the siege mentality and the ‘we against the world (or Kingston)’ notion could have the opposite effect on his team as we saw for West Indies senior men’s team in the recently concluded T20 World Cup. If they played yesterday and won, Powell will be lauded for his mental strategies and warfare.
On the contrary, if by the time you read this column, Montego Bay United is confirmed to have withdrawn from the RSPL final and Portmore United were crowned 2015-16 RSPL Champions due to Montego Bay’s forfeiture, then Powell, baptised in principle, has done a disservice to his team. I’d be then begged to question if Powell has lost his marbles and is Bedlam bound?
His actions last week has added sufficient sunlight to the operations of the PFAJ and hinted at possible future changes. I hope he didn’t keep his team from the finals and put the sun out on football in Montego Bay, Western Jamaica, and especially at Montego Bay United. If Powell withdraws his team, a plethora of repercussions would await the resurging Mobay United, as promised by the PFAJ.
With fingers crossed, I hope good sense has prevailed. Powell, I beg you, keep your marbles!
Until next time…
From the “Lies & Statistics” column in the Western Mirror (Published May 2, 2016)
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