By Randy Bennett
This year’s Champions Cup will have an international feel to it.
That’s because the Barbados Football Association (BFA) has taken the decision to introduce a new format where teams will play both home and away games in the knockout competition which kicks off this weekend.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, BFA president Randy Harris said the change was made primarily to give all of the 62 competing teams in the Premier League, First Division, Second Division and Third Division, an equal chance to win.
It is the first time that a home-and-away format will be used in the BFA knockout competition.
In what will be the featured matchup of the first round, Premier League runaway leaders Weymouth Wales will come up against challengers Paradise at Dover at 7 p.m.
“The Champions Cup is an islandwide cup and it involves all the clubs in Barbados and we have decided this year that instead of playing one game in knockouts we are playing on a home and away basis. But as you know the cricket season has started and it presents some challenges for us on weekends,” Harris said in a telephone interview.
“So as much as we can we are playing on a home and away basis so there will be two matches in the knockout this year and obviously we would decide the winners on aggregate. We also think that it gives all the clubs a chance at qualifying. You could lose the first game and you could come back and win the second game by more goals and still qualify.
“Since it involves all divisions starting from Premier League right down to Third Division it gives everybody an opportunity to have a chance at qualifying for the further rounds,” he added.
Harris said a decision had also been taken to play matches in the competition at grounds around the island.
He admitted that while the BFA could not provide security at all of the venues, he said judging from what had transpired so far in the lower divisions, he did not anticipate there would be any issues.
Harris pointed out that the majority of matches in the BFA’s lower divisions were being played at football grounds in the communities.
“We can’t afford security at all grounds but the thing is that in the Republic Cup, in the early part of the tournament, we played in the outside grounds and we didn’t have any problems.
“Right now from First to Third Division are playing in the communities and everything is going well as far as safety and security is concerned,” Harris said.