By Neto Baptiste
General secretary of the Grenades Football Club and former player, Edson Joseph, has revealed that the body has officially protested the October decision by the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association not to crown them champions of the Premier Division, while promoting a total of 12 teams even after having declared the 2019/20 domestic season null and void.
The FA, in early October, issued a statement advising the public that its 2019/20 domestic season had been cancelled, but that as part of restructuring efforts, six teams will be promoted from the First to the Premier Division, while another six teams will be promoted from the Second to the First Division.
The football association, however, decided to not crown any champions in the Premier Division while no teams were demoted from any of the eligible divisions.
Joseph said Grenades are prepared to elevate their concerns to the regional and international governing bodies, if necessary.
“Our position is that if you’re rewarding teams in the First and Second Divisions, then you should reward the teams in the Premier Division, and that’s our position. If you are cancelling the season, then the point-standings should not be used to adjudicate any restructuring of the competition,” he said.
“We have asked for a response within 14 days and if we do not get a response, we have indicated that we will escalate the matter upwards and you would understand what that would mean to CONCACAF and FIFA,” he added.
Grenades, on 31 points, led the competition by two points with two rounds of matches left when all competitions were halted due to the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic in March.
Greenbay Hoppers was second on 29 points with a chance of clinching the title if Grenades dropped three points or more in their remaining two matches. The scenario meant also that Hoppers needed to be perfect in their two fixtures.
“From looking at the various competitions and looking at the information online you would recognize that the Premier Division was the only one to have completed more than 90 percent of their games. When you look at the games also in the Premier Division, it would indicate that the leading team would have beaten the second placed team twice and the first placed team at that time, which is Grenades, would have had to lose a game outright not to be able to win the championship,” the official said.
Joseph, a former vice president of the association, said the decision must be fair to all involved.
“If the ABFA [were] to say tomorrow that ‘we have decided to cancel the season in the true sense of the word and we will not be able to reward anybody’, then that would be a fair decision and if you understand football then you know it is all about fair play and justice and there was absolutely no fair play in the decision that was arrived at,” he said.
According to Joseph, the FA was given 14 days to respond to the club’s protest.
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.