New rules could exclude Ja clubs from CONCACAF Pro Champs
Jamaican football clubs may lose the opportunity to qualify for the Scotiabank Champions League competition unless the country's premier league becomes fully professional in time for proposed changes by CONCACAF set to be implemented next year.
The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) yesterday issued a release from the governing body outlining intended changes to its regional champions league beginning in 2018.
According to the release, there will be two tiers of competition for Caribbean clubs. Tier-one clubs will play in the Caribbean Professional Club Championship (CPCC), which will be contested by the winners and runners-up of the top professional and semi-professional leagues in year one (2018).
After that, only clubs from leagues that are fully professionalised will be eligible to participate in the CPCC.
The second-tier competition will be the Caribbean Amateur Club Championship (CACC), which will be open to the champion club of the top league in member associations that have no professional or semi-professional league in 2018 and to amateur and semi-professional leagues from 2019 onwards.
The changes also mean that only the winners of the CPCC will qualify automatically to the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, while second- and third-place teams will qualify for the CONCACAF League.
CONCACAF said it would be focusing most of its resources on the CPCC, which will include a subsidy for air travel, hotel, meals and ground transportation for the teams and match officials, as well as prize money. Clubs participating in the CACC will receive a lower-level subsidy and no prize money.
CONCACAF also said that its intention was to phase out the CACC after 2022 and focus its resources on professional clubs and leagues.
All clubs must now prove their eligibility through the CONCACAF club licensing system, which became mandatory in 2016.
The system forms form the foundation of the eligibility platform and the designation of the member associations' league will be based on a CONCACAF League Survey, to be completed by member associations.
Meanwhile, the JFF has given the Professional Football Association of Jamaica until Monday to come up with recommendations for changes.
Interim JFF President Bruce Gaynor said that these were "game-changing decisions for the region", adding that the JFF would be "working closely with all stakeholders to ensure Jamaica's football is a beneficiary".
The JFF said yesterday that for clubs to receive a licence, they must complete forms related to infrastructure; youth development; finance and other general information such as submission of club statutes; proof of contract or agreements for fields and stadiums where home matches are played; as well as confirmation of registration of first team players.
The JFF said that it had appointed a club licensing manager in house and developed the club licensing regulations for Jamaica in 2015.
"These regulations are set based on a template provided by CONCACAF. The JFF has also established a first distance decision-making body which is responsible for reviewing the licensing applications submitted by all clubs," it concluded.