St. John’s Antigua- Minister of Finance and Economy Harold Lovell has indicated that the government is finding it difficult to furnish the Antigua & Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) with the necessary funding ahead of the semi-final round in the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers slated to commence on June 8.
Lovell said however that government understands the importance of the upcoming qualifiers and what it means to the country on a whole.
“We have a difficulty in funding it. We understand the importance of not only sports because this is not only a sports issue. This is a whole issue of the national psyche of Antigua & Barbuda. We want to make sure that Antigua & Barbuda can do well because it will do something for us as a people,” he said.
“It also is an issue of promotion where coming up against the United States will give tremendous exposure to Antigua & Barbuda and, of course, in terms of the opportunities it could create for our young people being exposed and being spotted by talent spotters and playing for big clubs and getting earn a decent living.”
The minister added that the government remains committed to providing some funding but still has to weigh the advantages against the disadvantages.
“We’re committed. The problem is to find the sort of money that’s necessary. We are going to have to do without something else. It means that we will be giving money in one way, but monies that would have been used maybe for roads, schools or something; so that is the problem,” Lovell said.
One solution presently being looked at, according to Lovell, is to have government guarantee a loan for ABFA.
“We are working out a funding mechanism whereby we are looking to guarantee a loan with the ABFA. And in guaranteeing that loan, we will eventually assist them with the repayment of the amount, but it will be spread over a period of time. So instead of us having to find a lump sum at one time, we will be able to assist them in the repayment of the loan over a period of time, so you spread the payments. We had hoped we would have had it in place since last week Friday,” the minister said.
ABFA President Everton “Batow” Gonslaves said on Monday that the FA is yet to receive a substantial amount of funds from government. He said however they have received what he has termed “mobilisation fees.”
The association is seeking just over $4 million in funding from the government that will go towards the preparation of the senior national team, the Benna Boys, ahead of the June 8 opener against the USA in Florida.