By Neto Baptiste
Coach of the Liberta Blackhawks football team, Rowan Benjamin, has voiced his dissatisfaction with the EC$8,000 distribution announced by the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) as a first tranche payout to clubs that participated in the 2019/20 domestic season.
Benjamin, who coached the Blackhawks to top flight glory in the 2018/19 competition, believes the amount is an insult to the clubs and must be relooked at by the association.
“I think that $8,000.00 should have gone to the Second Division and that should be in US [dollars]. I cannot see a Premier Division team, from this relief fund here taking less than $15,000.00 USD. We are crazy and we don’t understand what we are getting into here,” he said.
“The ABFA is currently saying $8,000.00 EC dollars and that is just over $2,000.00 [USD$2,900.00] and this is no money pertaining to what we are talking about here of $500,000.00 USD that is in the bank at this present moment,” he added.
A stickler for the constitution, Benjamin said each Premier Division club could easily receive USD$15,000.00 as a first payout given the funds that should have already been received by the ABFA.
“This is the third stage of FIFA funding because FIFA has released, since in June, [funds], and so all these funding the member associations are supposed to get without any hindrance to act as relief to these members. You’re talking about the $750,000.00 USD for the forward programme that FIFA has released to all these member associations and that is why other countries from around the region and further afield, back in June, could have gone ahead and given some relief to their clubs,” he said.
The coach urged other clubs to step up to the plate and air their grievances over this and other issues affecting the sport.
“They are not taking part, they are not really serious, they are not doing their research but I try my best. There is a WhatsApp group in the Premier Division so as soon as I go and I get information from the FIFA website I will post them up but they don’t read them so they are not aware so when the government brings his paper in front of him then is when they will know what is truly going on,” he said. The FA has announced that the EC$8,000.00 is only a first tranche which should be done equally across the board and that clubs would be allowed to apply for a second tranche.