By Neto Baptiste
At least three football clubs here have reported mounting bills as they struggle to financially support a number of overseas-based players still on island following a global lockdown of sports owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
Added to this, the national governing body for football, the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), is yet to take a definite position on its stalled competitions, what with the top flight being 90 percent completed.
The clubs believe that a decision should have been made some time ago.
President of the Liberta Sports Club and former West Indies fast bowler, Kenneth Benjamin, said the defending Premier Division champions, Liberta Blackhawks, are still housing a number of its overseas-based players who are still on island.
“The good thing for us is that our pavilion is well-equipped so they [players] have moved back there, and they have all of the amenities in terms of their internet, they have running water, kitchen so they could cook or whatever. I am just hoping that some of these politicians who had made promises, will live up to their promises and pay these players who they said they were going to pay, because some of the players have not been paid,” he said.
Blackhawks lay third from bottom in the standings with 18 points, two ahead of Parham and three ahead of Five Islands on 16 and 15 points respectively. Both Parham and Five Islands are in the dreaded automatic relegation zone while Blackhawks sit in the lone playoff position.
Benjamin said the Liberta Sports Club is not the only body affected.
“I think at least 20 Cubans are still here, and about two Cuban coaches, and obviously a couple of Jamaicans are still here and it’s not because they [the clubs] didn’t want to send them back, but because the airports were closing down and flights were difficult [to get] because they had dates they were supposed to have gone back. We were waiting for the two weeks [left in the Premier Division] to expire and then right after that I think Jamaica closed down and Santo Domingo started closing down,” he said.
Other clubs that spoke to OBSERVER media,requested anonymity.
Grenades lead the standings with 31 points, two ahead of Greenbay Hoppers who are second with 29 points. Premier Division newcomers, Ottos Rangers, are third with 24 points. There has been no word from the football association as to when a decision will be made regarding the stalled competitions.