Caribbean Football Union (CFU) President Randy Harris says that the revamped Caribbean Club Championship could see an increase in qualifying spots for some countries as Concacaf moves towards implementing its new Concacaf Champions League (CCL) competition format.
The regional governing body announced on February 4 that the CCL will be expanded to 50 teams, including 10 teams from the Caribbean competing in the group stage in 2023 . As a consequence of the new structure, the current version of Caribbean Club Championship, which has been used as the qualifier for regional tournaments, will be retired in 2022 and a new cup competition launched to determine the qualifying teams, in addition to results from the domestic leagues.
Harbour View Football Club President Carvel Stewart and Jamaica Football Federation Technical Committee Chairman Rudolph Speid had recently indicated a desire to see Jamaica’s qualifying spots increase from the expansion.
Harris said that while the CFU is committed to having as equitable a tournament as possible, he anticipated increases in spots allocated to member nations with professional leagues.
“[For] the allocation, we will try to get [it] as balanced as possible, but I would say while there is no confirmation [yet], those member countries that already have professional leagues will perhaps have a better opportunity to have more than one club representation in the competition, but there are no firm regulations so far, although we will hear more about it in a couple of weeks,” Harris told The Gleaner.
The expansion of the CCL will also mean the end of the Caribbean Club Shield, which has been used to allocate more Caribbean teams for regional competitions, and the Concacaf League, which was used to determine CCL places. Both tournaments will end in 2022. Harris said that the expansion was the next step to increasing the standard of regional club football.
“Now they (Concacaf) have gone a step further to expose more clubs and more players, and I believe that this time period can be a [benefit] for more professional clubs in the Caribbean since it offers more opportunities,” Harris said.
Waterhouse FC President Donovan White said that the step taken by Concacaf means that the Caribbean must take the necessary steps in improving locally to take advantage of the new competition format.
“It’s also a very ambitious move that will require some amount of capacity building by clubs across the region,” White said. “They (Concacaf) have identified four countries that have a solid leg to stand on, which are Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago, because of the structure of the top-flight football professionally. So, Jamaica is in a good position.”
The new structure guarantees a Caribbean team qualifying for the knockout phase of the tournament, and Concacaf President Victor Montagliani said that the new Caribbean championship would provide “great matchups between rival clubs and further drive development of the club game within the respective regions”. (Jamaicagleaner)