29 August, 2012, St John’s, Antigua–Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG), football fans and the general public, stand to benefit from an arrangement between Antigua & Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) and (FIFA) that would see the lights currently erected at the Paynters Goal Project facility moved to the historic venue.
This is according to ABFA President Everton “Batow” Gonsalves who revealed that the world’s governing body for football has given the green light for the transfer to take place. Gonsalves, however, could not give a timeline as to when the move will take place.
“We have had funds already allocated and infrastructure is just part of the whole running of the football. We have a local season that is upon us. We are still much involved in the World Cup Qualifiers, not only at the senior level, and so we can’t take on more. We have to prioritise; so we have had to do that in terms of growing the football the football first because that is our primary objective and then having done that we will concentrate on infrastructure which involves lighting and a top class playing field,” he said.
The former national player reminded also that plans are afoot to have an artificial turf laid at the Paynters facility as conditions at the controversial site is not conducive for the regular growth of grass.
“We have tried with Paynters where we have had lights installed; we have the fence and we have done all that we could, but the surface is of major concern. Throughout the OECS, I don’t imagine you have a dedicated facility for football and so we have tried and we have had advice on what could be done in terms of the natural grass at the Paynters Ground,” Gonsalves said.
“The top soil that has been removed from the Paynters Ground is about seven to 10 inches being removed, so what you have up there is very hard for grass to grow on. We have spoken to our friends in FIFA and other colleagues and companies and they have advised us that the best way to go with the Paynters facility is a synthetic surface. We have acquired the funds already, so we are just looking at the process of getting an excellent contractor to start the work,” he added.
Reports indicate that a proposal is to be placed before Cabinet in which the ABFA will seek to have vested interest in the historic venue. Additional lights, according to Gonsalves, will be re-sent for the Paynters project.