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it for Tivoli: Burrell sees future professional league
Encouraged by the level of fan attendance and organisation of this year's Digicel Premier League, Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) boss Captain Horace Burrell does not believe a fully professional league is too far off in the future for local football.
"This is the way the game should be played, this is the kind of atmosphere you love to see and that it is what good football is all about," Burrell told The Gleaner. The JFF president had been on hand to witness the almost carnival-like atmosphere as a packed Edward Seaga Stadium celebrated Tivoli Gardens capturing the league title, following a 1-0 win over Arnett Gardens.
"I remember seeing the celebration at Old Trafford when Manchester United were recently crowned champions of English football and the only difference is that there were more people," he said.
In one of the more exciting seasons to date, Tivoli seemingly out of contention came back to catch defending champions Portmore United, before passing them on goal difference on the final day. Harbour View, who played to 0-0 draw with Portmore, had also been in with a chance to capture the league title. Oraine Simpson had scored the all important goal for Tivoli with a 30th minute penalty.
"It was an excellent competition; I have to commend the sponsors, the organising committee of the JFF and the PLCA. It has been tremendous and I think it will act as a catalyst and it indicates that a fully professional football league is not too far away," Burrell said.
The match was the second that was packed to capacity in a number of days, as hundreds of patrons had flocked to Ferdie Neita Park to witness Tivoli match up against dethroned champions Portmore in the league's penultimate round.
In its current state, the premier league is characterised as semi-professional, with only some of the players and coaches currently able to earn a living from football, in part due to expenses incurred from running a club. The running of a local football club has been estimated to range from anywhere between $4 to $6 million each year.
However, in 2007 the premier league clubs moved towards revolutionising the football landscape with the formation of the Premier League Clubs Association, which makes the entities responsible for negotiating their own sponsorship deal, previously the responsibility of the JFF.
- Kwesi Mugisa