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By Neto Baptiste

Former national and Lion Hill Spill player, Ivor Luke, said he would support any efforts to decentralise the country’s top football competition.

Traditionally, matches in the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association’s (ABFA) top flight are played at a single venue. There has however been calls for the spreading out of matches in the competition with some individuals suggesting a home and away format amongst competing clubs.

Luke said a recent local cricket competition highlighted the value of giving the communities an opportunity to support the teams representing them in the country’s prime division.

“It would be a wonderful thing because the 50 [40] overs cricket competition in terms of the local competition that just concluded, that was an excellent competition and it was a beautiful thing, so I must give kudos to the cricket association in that it was a beautiful thing to go and watch those games in the different communities,” he said. 

The former player, who has won several top flight titles with Lion Hill Spliff, also noted that there is not enough competitive football being played on an annual basis.

“When I started we had a knockout in June because the football would start around June or so and we had a knockout where the final played at the start of the season. At the halfway point in the season we would have a soccerama also but we don’t play those anymore so we would just wait and play the Premier Division; so even from my time, we have regressed in terms of the amount of football we play now, even from my time,” he said. 

Luke said that creating more opportunities to play would afford clubs the opportunity to expose more players to different levels of competition.

“When you’re in the league now where you either go up or down then that’s a different kettle of fish but if you have other tournaments where you could give other players a chance that would be very good for some of the players who are not your major players,” the former player said. The Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) currently hosts the ABFA competition, but in previous years, matches had been held at the Police Recreation Grounds and also the former Stanford Cricket Ground, now renamed the Coolidge Cricket Ground.