By Neto Baptiste
Rowan Benjamin, coach of the 2018/19 Premier Division champions the Liberta Blackhawks, believes that the principals of the Grenades FC should seek redress over a decision by the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) to not award them the 2019/20 title even after they made the decision to promote a total of 12 teams.
The decision to promote six teams each from the Second and First divisions came after the FA announced last week that the coronavirus-affected league had been cancelled and that the promoting of 12 teams was part of efforts to restructure the leagues.
Benjamin believes the FA would have breached its constitution when the decision was made and called on Grenades to address the issue.
“Hear what article 35 in terms of executive decisions says, ‘3: Any member of the executive committee must withdraw from the debate and from taking a decision if there is any risk or possibility of a conflict of interest’. Now, the reason I am pointing out this to you is because they know what they have done and what is happening now is that they are saying that ‘the decision is not me, it is not the executive, it is the clubs’, when it is the executive who made the decision. So that is what they are putting out there now because they know there is a serious conflict of interest and this is a case for Jennings to proceed with and win easily,” he said.
Grenades led the competition by two points when it was halted in March this year. The Jennings team were on 31 points, two more than Greenbay Hoppers who had 29. Both teams had played 16 matches.
Coach of the Grenades FC and former national striker, Derrick “Pretty Boy” Edwards, who has been vocal on the issue for some time now, recently announced he will no longer coach in the top flight.
Benjamin said the decision is a sad one.
“It is very sad when a senior coach would leave a top division like that, finish with it altogether, but I am not going into his decision because that is his decision. It is just sad to see that ‘Pretty Boy’ would have left football as such a young coach,” he said.
As part of the restructuring efforts, six teams will be promoted from Second to First Division while six will also be promoted from the First to the Premier Division.
Garden Stars FC, Bendals FC, Lion Hill FC, JSC Progressors, Young Lions FC and Green City FC have all been promoted from the Second Division, while Empire FC, Sap FC, FC Aston Villa, Tryum FC, Blue Jays FC, and Willikies FC will play in the now 16-team Premier Division.
No winners were crowned while no teams will be relegated from either the Premier or the First Division.