Late pick-up, a hiccup - JUTC dismisses plot to aid transport minister's Humble Lion
The Jamaica Urban Transit Corporation (JUTC) has distanced itself from allegations of a plot to have Tivoli Gardens arrive late for last Sunday's Premier League match against Transport Minister Mike Henry's Humble Lion at Effortville, Clarendon, with $1m on the line.
Homesters Humble Lion started the day a point behind leaders University of the West Indies, needing an outright win, while hoping UWI falter against Portmore United at Spanish Town Prison Oval in two crucial fixtures to decide the $1m bounty for topping the Premier League's preliminary round.
Tivoli showed up late, a mere 25 minutes before kick-off, and were trounced 4-0 whereas UWI went down 2-0 at Spanish Town in an eventful final round of matches, which also saw Boys' Town avoid relegation in a 3-3 draw against neighbours Arnett Gardens, who fielded an understrength team.
Cecil Thoms, JUTC's communication manager, described Tivoli's late pick-up as an "hiccup", pointing out that even Humble Lion, the transport minister's club has been affected by hitches in the past.
Cannot be blamed
"I would say that in this particular (Tivoli) case was a hiccup. It was an extremely busy holiday period but it's a one off in this instance.
"We are not shirking from the fact that one of our buses was late. We had six games on Wednesday and on the weekend we had six games. It was really busy because it was the Easter holidays. However, the bus company cannot be blamed. That, to me, is irrational thinking."
Thoms said he expected Tivoli to be upset and pointed out that last Wednesday, when Humble Lion played at Prison Oval, the bus to take them to the game had arrived late and they had to charter their own transportation to the game.
"So they ended up paying their way but were carried back home by JUTC, and they are not blaming no bus company," Thoms argued, pointing out that transportation of clubs on match days has been smooth for the most parts, but they do have occasional mishaps.
Meanwhile, another JUTC source sought to explain what he described as "a mix-up", saying the depot usually assigned to pick up the Tivoli team was the main reason for the confusion.
"Usually, the Rockfort depot transports the Tivoli team whereas teams going to Effortville are normally taken by the Spanish Town depot. On Sunday, for a while it was unclear which depot was responsible for transporting Tivoli, until it was way past the scheduled pick-up time,' he said.