Football takes new leap of faith with unveiling of Stag Elite League

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Holistic football development in Guyana has been given a new lease on life with the unveiling of the most lucrative league yet, the Stag Elite League.
This feat has attracted eight of the nation’s best clubs. In full battle mode for the $15M in prize money are: Alpha ‘The Hammer’ United, Slingerz, Fruta Conquerors, Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Georgetown Football Club, Buxton United, Pele and Monedderlust Football clubs.
There was a Super League and similar leagues before, but this new league is set to trump all others as it is more all-encompassing. It will run for eight months at a level never before seen in Guyana when it comes to the league format.
The title sponsor is Ansa McAl under their Stag Beer brand, while corporate support so far has also been had from Courts Guyana Inc., Hits and Jams Radio (94.1FM) and E-Networks – Guyana’s premier Cable TV, Internet, VOIP and 4G Broadband Service Provider. The latter will be airing the game of the month to its subscribers – a first for the sport in Guyana.
The first double-header got underway on September 18, 2015 at the Leonora Track & Field and Football Facility on the West Coast of Demerara (WCD) where Pele FC, one of the longstanding clubs, matched skills with another longstanding club, Georgetown Football Club (GFC), the former prevailing.
Also at stake, apart from the fact that one club can win as much as $10M at the end of both rounds of competition, are also two spots available at the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship which leads to the CONCACAF Champions League.
The league will be split into two – Genesis and Finale, with the club coming out on top taking home $4M, second-place $2M, third-place $1M and fourth-place $500,000. There’s also a $1M bonus for the club with the most points at the end of both seasons.
Chairman of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Normalisation Committee, Clinton Urling, in his comments at the official launch, said the league in itself, will be football’s ‘litmus test’.
He noted that sustenance of the league, after the Normalisation Committee’s life comes to an end on November 14 and the GFF Congress is held to elect a new executive, would be paramount for the new administration to ensure that it is continued.
“I hope also to see in the future that the GFF doesn’t own the league, but that clubs in the league rightfully take charge. We (GFF) are starting it now but the long-term plan is to ensure that those clubs can manage, run and share the revenue,” Urling said.
He added, “In the last league, I think the prize money was about $6.5M, and this year we pumped it up to $15M. For the first time, the GFF will be paying the players. So for every match played, the players will be receiving a direct support from the GFF.”
Urling also disclosed that apart from tangible support from corporate Guyana, the league is heavily funded by the sport’s world governing body FIFA, which is of the view that “the leagues is where you develop players and teams to have champions, not just one of competitions.”
“Football is the world’s biggest sport; the world’s most commercially viable sport, and FIFA, if you look at their World Cup – Guyana’s GDP is $3.2 billion and FIFA in the 2014 World Cup revenue is $4.8 billion, which is more than our(Guyana) GDP in an entire year,” Urling noted.

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Columns · Issue 19 · Publication · Sports

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