By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), Everton Gonsalves is hopeful that the 2019/20 domestic season could be completed, especially in light of new regulations allowing the game to be played at a social level or for recreational purposes.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Gonsalves said he is yet to receive anything in writing from the proper authorities regarding the most recent decision, but added that once he does, he would then sit with his executive to plot the way forward.
“I have requested the official communication so that I could sit down with my executive and glean whatever it says and then we will adjust accordingly if we have to, but that is why we would have looked at the long-term situation where we gave the date of any possible resumption to be of a particular date, but all these issues that you are raising now is what we had looked at back then, and so we will look at it carefully before we make another decision if we have to make another decision which is different from the one we would have taken as far back as March,” he said.
Gonsalves, a former national striker, revealed that the FA have looked at all possible scenarios and that it would require less time than is being publicly debated to complete the top flight.
“It’s not going to take us three weeks to complete the Premier Division. If you notice what the EPL is doing, teams played on Friday, they played over the weekend and they are playing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday again, and that is what we have in mind. There are only two rounds that are left in the Premier Division so I can tell you, maximum five days or minimum three days with all the protocols in place we can complete the APL and have a winner,” he said.
As for the readiness and or preparedness of the clubs to complete the season should the FA be given the all clear to do so, Gonsalves said he has dialogued with some teams and is looking at ways in which they could assist, especially in cases where teams are still catering for players they would have imported ahead of the season.
“A number of the players are still here, but like you quite rightly said, they are missing home. We are listening to a number of our clubs in trying to assist in getting players home in order to return, if the decision stands, where we are planning to resume by a particular date, so we are looking at all the situations to continue to be fair and not only to the game which requires fairness and integrity, but also to our stakeholders which are the clubs,” the president said.
“This is a season like no other and if we resume, it’s going to be a season like no other and even if we do not resume and we make [another] decision as to what the 2020/21 will look like, it is going to be a decision like no other also,” he added.
Grenades lead the Premier Division with 31 points from 16 matches while Greenbay Hoppers are second with 29 points and are the only two teams that could win the title. Ottos Rangers are third with 24 points while Pigotts Bullets lie fourth with 23 points. Five Islands are at the bottom of the standings with 15 points while Parham lie second from bottom with 16 points. Defending champions, Liberta Blackhawks, are eighth in the 10-team standings with 18 points and All Saints United, seventh with 19 points.