Marc Stamp, Gleaner Writer
The Flow Champions Cup, the nation's premier knockout football competition, returns after a one-year absence, with round one set to kick-off next week. The competition will see 26 teams competing for the trophy and cash prizes.
Flow has committed $2.33 million to run the competition over nine weeks.
"This is the most exciting national competition. After a one-year hiatus, we are back with the Flow Champions Cup," Donovan White, Flow's vice-president of marketing, said at the press launch yesterday morning at Barbican playing field in St Andrew.
"The tournament was delayed last year, then the timing was not right. It is not that we abandoned the competition. Now, we are back and the competition that was normally played at the back-end of the National Premier League will now be played parallel to that competition," White explained.
"It is the most exciting national knockout football competition. This will be the 22nd year of this national competition, set to start next Wednesday," he added.
The draw for first-round action on September 11 will see Savannah FC vs Holland United, Highgate vs Axum, Barbican vs Exchange United, Humble Lion vs Cavalier and Port Morant United vs Eagle Strikers.
On Thursday, September 12, the games are Sporting Central Academy vs Jamalco, Black Star vs Logwood United, New Green vs Reggae Youths, Sandals Whitehouse FC vs Rivoli United and Montego Bay United FC vs Rockfort FC. Home teams are named first.
Six premier league teams will enter the fray in the second round, set for September 18 and 19. The six are 2011 champions Tivoli Gardens FC, two-time winners Boys' Town FC, Arnett Gardens FC, Waterhouse FC, Portmore United and Harbour View FC.
In a new feature, the four quarter-final games will be played as double headers on October 2 and 3 as night games. The semi-finals are set for October 14 and the grand finale on October 28.
BIG MONEY PRIZES
The Flow Champions Cup winner will receive the trophy and cash incentive of $1 million, while the runner-up will earn $400,000. The beaten semi-finalists will pocket $200,000 each and the losing quarter-finalists are guaranteed $90,000 apiece.
The Most Valuable Player (MVP) will walk away with $70,000; top goalscorer $50,000 and coach of the winning team $50,000. Media partners CVM TV and KLAS/ESPN radio will broadcast the games.
All 26 teams will receive gear courtesy of Locker Room Sports and adidas will provide new gear for the four semi-finalists.
Edward Seaga, chairman of the Professional Football Association of Jamaica, is happy that the Flow Champions Cup has returned.
"The knockout competition was missed by fans and players. I am happy that it is back. It provides a wonderful occasion for everyone. There is nothing like a knockout competition for excitement, as it is do-or-die," Seaga said.
Captain Horace Burrell, president of the Jamaica Football Federation, also endorsed the competition.
He said: "I thank Flow for having taken the decision to sponsor football. Sponsorship in football is a partnership and the benefits are so numerous.
"Flow was out for last year and I'm so happy that they will be the sponsors of this competition again," Burrell added.