By Neto Baptiste
Although not yet in the loop regarding the structure of a 16-team Premier Division, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Referees Association (ABFRA), Oliver Joseph, believes officials will be ready when the time comes.
“We have gotten less time to get ready in the past and we have managed to get it done. I am hoping that as soon as possible that we have some sort of discussion with the ABFA on this matter so that we can come to an amicable solution,” he said.
Joseph was speaking on the Good Morning Jojo sports show at the time where he revealed that the body has not been involved in any discussions with the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) or the head of the newly-formed referees department, Kelesha Antoine, regarding the format and required manpower going into the 2022/23 domestic season.
“We first have to find out from the ABFA how they are going to structure the leagues, as to whether everybody will play everybody or if they are going to put them in zones, and then we would be able to say whether or not we have the quantity of referees for the different divisions. I don’t know if they discussed it with the referees committee at the time or the referee department because the referee association, in the past, was in charge of all these things but now we are more of a union than dealing with the everyday business of referees,” the official said.
Regardless of the non-communication between the FA and the referees, Joseph said his members have been readying themselves for any eventuality.
“Presently, we still have ongoing training, ongoing courses and recruitment, but those persons would not be up to standard to referee in the premier league and the majority of the more qualified referees are older referees who are no longer able to run at that pace to stay with those guys in the premier league, so it is going to be taxing on whomsoever will be in the premier league, so that is something that will have to be discussed before the season starts,” he said.
Should the format remain the same, a 16-team Premier Division will see each team playing a total of 30 matches in the two-round season, 12 matches more than they would have in the original 10-team competition. Both the First and Second Divisions were also increased by six teams.
Reports indicate that a proposed knockout competition will start in August with the First and Second Division competitions set to kick-off in September. The Premier Division will reportedly start in October.