Jamaica Premier League (JPL) clubs Portmore United and Waterhouse have opted to withdraw from the CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championships, scheduled for Santa Domingo, Dominica Republic, next month, citing a lack of preparation due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The group stage of the Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship kicked off on January 29 in Kingston, Jamaica last year.  However, the island's top league has not been played on the island since last May as the country struggles to get COVID-19 cases under control.

According to the release issued by Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), the clubs have also been unable to train consistently in recent months, due to changes in the country’s Disaster Risk Management Act.  Despite ongoing talks with the government regarding the staging of a league that could take place in a controlled environment, the PFJL admitted it was unlikely to take place before the start of the Caribbean Club Championships. 

Chairman of the PFJL Chris Williams, expressed sympathy with the clubs but believed it could be a sign of things to come.

“...this decision by two of our clubs saddens the PFJL but we remain 100% in support of their decision given the circumstances that have occasioned their pulling out of the most important regional tournament that has realised much success for many of our clubs in years past,” Williams noted in the release.

“It is also inescapable for me not to point to the fact that this is the first of many dominoes that will befall the sport and our players locally, if we not able to restart the Jamaica Premier League before the end of the 2021 season.”

 

Professional Football Jamaica (PFJ) have secured two additional club sponsors and a category sponsor for the upcoming season of the Jamaica Premier League, powered by Digicel.

The club sponsors are Kemtek Development & Construction and ConserveIT Limited, who were both announced at a recent press signing at the Jamaica Pegasus. Also back on board is former title sponsor, Red Stripe, who join the fold as a category sponsor. Red Stripe remains the “official beer of the Jamaica Premier League”.

These recent agreements bring the total number of sponsors to 13 as ConserveIT, Kemtek and Red Stripe join Digicel, SportsMax, Yummy Bakery, JMMB, Jamaica Producers, Indies Pharma, Wata, Tru Shake, Burger King and Mount Pleasant Academy as sponsors.

The Premier League seeks to get underway with applications submitted to the Ministry of Sport and the ODPEM for consideration. The club sponsors will be assigned to their respective clubs prior to the start of the season.

Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness has indicated that more local sports could soon resume on the island, after a series of meetings that prompted a change of heart from the government.

So far, in the wake of the pandemic, only a series of selected sports have resumed with horse racing and selected track meets listed among them.  In the main, however, the majority of sports have remained shuttered since around last May, as part of efforts to control the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Among the more popular sports yet to resume are the National Premier League and the majority of high school competitions, which encompasses popular competitions like the Manning and daCosta Cups.  Holness, however, believes that while things will not necessarily return to normal, there is now a very likely way forward.

“Prior to now, the policy was not to allow sporting events,” Holness told parliament on Tuesday.

“We contemplated this over two days.  We had our COVID meeting on Friday and again on Monday and the decision is that sporting events can be allowed under conditions,” he added.

“The minister of local government, the minister of sports, the minister of public health will in due course explain what these details are.”

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and Ministry of Health and Wellness have been locked in negotiations for weeks regarding the return of the premier league.

 

Jamaica Premier League football club, Harbour View, where recent departed national striker Luton Shelton spent his formative years, has described his loss as heart-wrenching.

Shelton died on Friday after a battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  He was 35 years old.  In its release, the club chronicled the player’s rise from an eager youth representative to becoming the country’s all-time leading scorer.

“His late father, Luton Shelton Snr., brought him by the hand to coach Ludlow Bernard at an All-Prep vs All-Primary Final at Sabina Park in 1997 to play for Harbour View Football Club (HVFC) in the Under 14 Competition. The Tivoli Gardens resident began his journey, then accelerated his development through Under 16 Colt's, Manning Cup, and All Manning while attending Wolmer's Boys School. He quickly climbed the ladder to KSAFA Minor League, Under 20, and Premier League, attracting the glare of the national coaches,” it stated.

“International football came calling early and he embraced it with scoring a record 4 goals on debut. From there he never looked back as the goals flowed in buckets to surpass then-leading national goalscorer Paul 'Tegat' Davis, to hold the current record of 35 goals.”

Shelton represented Harbour View in Jamaica’s National Premier League between 2003-2006, scoring a healthy 44 goals in 43 appearances.  During his time at the club, he was part of the 2006-2007 Premier League championship team and also helped capture the CFU Club Championship in 2005.

The forward signed for Sweden’s Helzinberg, in 2007, and went on to play nine years abroad at various clubs, including a brief stint in the English Premier League with Sheffield United.  He returned to Harbour View in 2017 but was forced to retire soon after suffering injuries and later being diagnosed with the disease.

“As he returned home to HVFC, he battled training and match preparations as injuries interrupted, but at the National Stadium on February 20, 2017, he lit up the floodlights with a goal made in heaven as the bright 'Star Of The East' shone one more time to equalise against Tivoli Gardens FC. He never returned to the field after halftime.

Fond memories of a career filled with scorching runs, dribbles, and a ton of goals remind us of the man, the goalscorer, and the legend Luton George Kieshawn Shelton. Rest in eternal peace; your goal was well scored."

Professional Football Jamaica (PFJ) have secured Digicel as the presenting sponsor and SportsMax as the broadcast partner for the next three seasons of the redesigned Jamaica Premier League.

Heralded as a major development in professional football, the competition will now be titled, “The Jamaica Premier League - powered by Digicel”.

As part of the agreement, SportsMax will continue its state-of-the-art production, introducing never before used broadcast technologies in Jamaica, and its broadcast of the Premier League across multiple platforms including free-to-air, SportsMax channels and the SportsMax App.

Shortly after announcing this game-changing development, Chief Marketing Officer for Digicel Jamaica, Nasha-Monique Douglas, commented that the sponsorship is another strong signal of the digital operator’s support for national development through sports.  “The national sport in Jamaica is football, and it has significance in how we manage social development as a nation. Digicel can’t be a part of the country’s future without investing in properties that change people’s lives and football hits every single community across the island,” Douglas said.

As to the primary rationale behind the sponsorship, Douglas believes giving back is essential. “It’s a two-parter; it’s clearly business as sporting content is king at a time when people are glued to their devices, but it’s also about playing a key role in our nation and our youth’s development as Digicel continues to be a part of Jamaica’s tapestry,” she said.

 For SportsMax CEO Olly McIntosh, this is a continuation of their broadcast partnership with the Premier League that dates back to the ­­­­2015/16 season.

 “The Jamaica Premier League represents the upper level of football in CONCACAF and is the foundation for the players that will form the team and that will hopefully go to the World Cup in 2022. For us at SportsMax, the league will sit in a very good broadcast neighbourhood on SportsMax alongside the Spanish La Liga and the UEFA Champions League.  The unrivalled production and broadcast will increase as we showcase the Premier League to viewers globally on cable and digital platforms for the next three seasons.” 

Digicel now joins JMMB, Wisynco, Yummy Bakery, Jamaica Producers, Indies Pharma and Mount Pleasant Academy as sponsors.

 Professional Football Jamaica are awaiting the green light from the government for the 2021 season.

 PFJ Chairman Chris Williams assures all Jamaicans that while negotiations are still underway with a number of other sponsors in the league and club categories, the organizers are fully in sight of their targets. He notes, “Digicel has ensured we will have a Merry Christmas and we look forward to a Happy New Year when we make the final sponsorship announcements in early January.”

Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL) announced today that they have secured two sponsors for the Jamaica Premier League season that seeks to get underway in early 2021.

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