By Neto Baptiste
A decision regarding the outcome of the coronavirus-impacted national football competition may not come before the middle of September.
This is according to President of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), Everton Gonsalves, who said a delay by some clubs in completing and returning the required survey forms is the main reason for the delay.
“My original hope was to collect all of my membership fees by June 30 as stipulated in the constitution, but you know where that went so I am very lenient to my clubs and I have been accused of that significantly. I am not going to stop, I am going to continue believing in the clubs but I will monitor today [September 1] and if I get back all of the information then I will call all of the bodies responsible for the decision making together and you’ll have it as soon as we have collated all of the information,” he said.
The former national striker predicts that with all the forms being completed and in the possession of the ABFA this week, a decision could be made by September 15.
“I can’t see, having had all the amendments and the clubs are now clear in all areas and if all goes well [with the returning of the forms] that a two-week processing time is enough and by the 15th of December a decision will be made and that by that time also, disbursements should be flying out,” Gonsalves said.
In July, clubs were presented with four options at the meeting, one of which calls for the competition to be cancelled completely, naming no champion, while promotion and demotion will also be overlooked.
Another option allows for the accepting of the standings at the time the competition was halted, while the other two options, one of which is resumption of the league and the other being a hybrid situation where teams eligible for promotion, are moved up the ranks but none will be demoted were also presented.
Questioned on what appears to be the recent addition to one of the four options, which is to relegate three teams from both the Premier and First Divisions and allegations that the option is geared towards the outspoken Liberta Sports Club, Gonsalves rubbished the claims.
“You look at the form and if you see a fifth option then you can deliberate on it, but I am not going to give attention to such nonsense. I haven’t seen [the fifth option] and you’ve heard the Liberta Blackhawks casting or inciting or imputing improper motives by saying that the president [of the ABFA] is against Liberta and wants Liberta to be relegated. But wasn’t it under my presidency last year that Liberta won the championship on the last day when they received their monies right at the time when they completed their championship and their medals and trophies at the same time?” he said.
The option, which is the second of the four listed on the form, calls for the cancellation of the remainder of the season with all points and standings at the time of the disruption of the leagues taken into consideration.
It went on to call for the crowning of a champion and the relegation of teams in positions eighth, ninth and 10th from the Premier Division and 10, 11 and 12 from the First Division. The option also allows for the promotion of the top three teams from the First and Second Divisions.