By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), Everton Gonsalves, has sought to rebuff claims that the body neglected its obligation to maintain the playing surface at the historic Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) in accordance with a lease they signed with government almost 10 years ago.
Speaking on the Connecting with Dave Lester Payne show on Monday, Gonsalves said a number of invasive weeds and other unwanted plants seen growing amongst overgrown grass in a recent video, were as a result as fresh attempts to repair the surface at the facility that has deteriorated over the years.
“We were supposed to keep the field cut but because of the tremendous harassment that the field has gone through for various reasons — and I can say it here, Carnival — a particular kind of material was placed on there to keep the patrons of Carnival happy. What we are doing is remedying that and so ghaut sand has in a particular number of weeds,” he said.
“What we have done is called back down Mr Anthon Merrick who was saddened that type of material was placed on the ground so now we have decided what is the best type of material, and the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association had offered to re-grade the whole field but it had to be done in accordance with other users,” he added.
Reports are that the terms of the lease came up for discussion during a recent sitting of Cabinet following a public outcry over the condition of the field.
Gonsalves, a former national striker, said recent discussions with the government has yielded fruitful results.
“The lease is still intact but the less said about that here today, the better. There is no negotiation [ongoing] but both parties have met and we are moving speedily along as to what our obligations are in relation to the further development and rehabilitation of our most storied sporting facility in terms of the ARG. Over the next couple of weeks you’d be hearing from both sides as they show and indicate what unity can do,” he said.
The field has since been cleared of the overgrown grass and invasive weed with further work expected to take place in the coming weeks.