September RSPL start possible – Mansingh
Sports physician Dr Akshai Mansingh says that the 2020-21 Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) season can start in September if the current community spread of the coronavirus remains low.
The 2019-20 season was cancelled in May by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) because of the pandemic and no champion being crowned, after being postponed in March when Jamaica registered its first case of the virus.
In a statement announcing the cancellation, JFF President Michael Ricketts set a tentative September start for the new season. Dr Mansingh said provided that teams are approved to start training preseason, a September launch is not impossible.
"I don't think the first week of September is the best time but mid-September, late September, assuming that August they can get started with their training, that could be feasible," Mansingh told STAR Sports.
Regarding the preseason preparations for teams for next season, Mansingh said that clubs could resume training in small groups first, and with established protocols ease their way into full group training. He made similar suggestions regarding how preseason activities can be conducted for the 2020 schoolboy football season, saying that with the risk of community spread of the virus currently low, starting to train with small groups initially is acceptable.
"It is a similar sort of protocol if you operate off the premise that the communities that the players are coming from don't seem to be inundated with the disease. If there was an outbreak in a particular community, then you may have to look at it. But right now Jamaica [as] a whole is not overridden by community-spread infections," he said. "So one who would expect that the Premier League would continue in the same way."
Meanwhile, Premier League Clubs Association Vice-Chairman Carvel Stewart says while the proposed new company, Premier League Jamaica, would be dealing with league matters once launched, the upcoming season can be played successfully, balancing the necessary health protocols with fans back in the stands.
"The ideal case is that I wouldn't like to see an empty stand. I think that there can be protocols that include spectators in an orderly manner, with the clubs making extra effort to separate people to watch," he said.
Mansingh concurs that fans could return to the grounds, albeit in the latter part of the season, should the risk of community spread remain low.
Calls to the JFF went unanswered.