A number of prominent football figures have voiced their concerns over what they are calling a blatant lack of willingness by Antigua & Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) to give back financially to the clubs and players who participate in the local competitions on an annual basis.
Head coach of Bassa FC and founder of 5P’s FC, Noel Egan, while speaking on OBSERVER AM on Tuesday, said the local FA continues to ignore their most valuable assets and clubs need to realise that the buck stops with them.
“Let me just give you an analogy: a couple of years ago, we had Lionel Richie (at Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds). Tickets were sold by the promoters and there was a big festival at the (SVRCG),” Egan said.
“Now imagine at the end of that concert Lionel Richie is standing on the stage with his microphone, the band has gone home, the Antigua public has gone home, and the promoter has gone home, and Lionel Richie is saying, where is my cheque – that wouldn’t happen – because he is the entertainment and who people have come out to watch.
“Now here we have a football association where week in and week out, we have footballers put themselves on the line. I have had players at Bassa put their shoulders out and they haven’t been able to work for many weeks, and now we have a situation, yet again, where they are providing all of the entertainment for the public, and we have a situation where the FA turns around and say we have no money to assist you.”
Former national player and coach of LIME Old Road FC, Derrick “Pretty Boy” Edwards, also joined in the discussion, saying that it is unfair to the clubs and the players who put their health on the line every weekend to walk away empty-handed at the end of the season.
He also criticised the executive for wanting to put on a “party” at the end of the season when clubs are still owed outstanding prize monies from last year.
“It’s about time that the clubs wake up because it seems to me like the executive, they are not singing on the same hymn sheet because on the (one) hand, we were told that the executive is not in a position to assist us to go to the Club Championships, and on the other hand, people from the executive say they don’t know anything about it so it seems to me like it’s a confusion,” the former striker said.
“Now you are telling me that you are going to provide a party atmosphere and clubs out there have not received their prize monies from last year, and I am telling you publicly that Old Road would never take the football field next season unless we get our outstanding money for last year and this year.”
One other caller, Petra Williams, who is associated with Bassa FC, reminded the audience that at the start of the season, clubs had requested a percentage of the gate receipts which never materialised.
She also noted that postponing the competition for an extra week would mean added costs to the clubs involved.
“Before the season commenced, the Premier clubs had a conversation with the FA about the fact that they (the clubs) felt that a portion of the gate receipts should be shared with the clubs, (and also) about the issue of insurance for the players in terms of improving the quality of the insurance, and these matters went to the president and a meeting was held with the president. But we later found out that this was not related to the rest of the executive, and all sorts of shenanigans were put in place to ensure that the clubs could not benefit from the gate receipts that they contribute directly to,” Williams said.
“Also, clubs would have expected that they would have closed out the season this weekend because to put it off for another weekend is an additional cost that the clubs will have to incur to accommodate the FA’s request to put on this big throwdown,” she said.
The final week, according to the FA, has been postponed until the weekend of February 19 to 20 in order to facilitate the planning of a “grand finale” which will include live entertainment.