GFF backs Concacaf’s Caribbean Professional League Working Group

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The Guyana Football Federation (GFF) has thrown its support behind the establishment of a Caribbean Professional League Working Group, put together by regional governing body Concacaf.

The Working Group, established with the support of world governing body FIFA, will be a sub-group of the Concacaf Competitions Committee and will carry out a comprehensive study of Caribbean professional club football.

The Caribbean Professional League Working Group will include the Chairman of the Concacaf Competitions Committee, the CFU President, experts with experience in football and other sectors from across the Caribbean and a FIFA representative.

The terms of reference for the Working Group have been approved by the Concacaf Council and its work will begin when the current public health situation allows.

Commenting on this development, president of the Guyana Football Federation, Wayne Forde, said: “A sustainable Caribbean Professional League that is modelled from the unique circumstances of the Caribbean Football reality, would be the realisation of a shared vision of the CFU Member Association family. I wish therefore, to commend President Montagliani for following through on his commitment and to assure my colleagues, that as a member of the Concacaf Competitions Committee – I will do my utmost to contribute to the work of the sub-group.”

Guyana’s situation

“As it relates to Guyana’s football – let me be clear, the GFF’s focus is on investing in the professional management of the game and NOT on developing a professional League. We simply do not have the fundamental building blocks at this time, for a sustainable professional League. Any professional football model – that has to be heavily bankrolled by the GFF, will not be sustainable.”

Forde declared that, in a Guyana context, financial resources are needed in other areas.

“In addition, to this model being unsustainable, it will also consume vast amounts of finances and other critical resources that are badly needed for the cultivation of a sustainable model for youth development programmes, coaching education, referees development, capacity building, national team programmes, infrastructure development projects etc. These are the fundamental priorities that the GFF must remain focus on for the next four to eight years.”

He added, “Until then, the national football machinery must remain focus on helping Regional Associations and Clubs to get better at organising football competitions at a consistently good standard, developing a better registration and data management systems, developing a marketing, CSR and PR platform and facilitating technical development of their Coaches, officials and most importantly, their players.”

“We have to remind ourselves that globally, professional football is played by professional clubs, with the financial resources to fund their operations. In Guyana, and like most of the CFU region, we do not have professional Clubs. This is mainly because of the scale of Guyana’s economy at this moment in time. The Trinidad professional league is a good example of what is required to create the semblance of a professional football League. Despite Trinidad’s relatively strong economy and corporate community, the League exists ONLY because of a Government grant that is used to pay the players as part of a social programme geared towards crime reduction. This is not the Guyana reality.”

Forde reminded that the GFF’s role is to build management capacity at the club and association levels “by providing training programmes for Club management, competition management, marketing, coaching, providing football equipment and supporting infrastructure development projects.”

“This is what we have been doing at an unprecedented rate over the past four years. However, this alone is not sufficient and will not have a lasting impact unless the elected leaders at the Club and Regional Associations, embrace their Constitutional obligations with commitment and dedication. The GFF will be establishing a membership department in the very near future, which will allow us to be closer to our members and work with them to develop solution to the challenges they are might be facing to implement their programmes.”

About the Caribbean Professional League Working Group

The membership of the group comprises:

Concacaf Competitions Committee Chairman, Yon de Luisa (Chairman)

Concacaf Vice-president and Caribbean Football Union President, Randolph Harris (Deputy Chairman)

Representative of Trinidad and Tobago, Brent Sancho (Member)

Representative of Jamaica, Christopher Samuda (Member)

Representative of Haiti, Patrick Massenat (Member)

Representative of the Dominican Republic, Manuel Estrella (Member)

Representative of Curaçao, Valdemar Florentino Marcha (Member) 

FIFA representative

Administrative support for the group will be provided by the Confederation’s Competitions and Development Departments, and its Jamaica office.

“The feasibility of a Caribbean professional league has previously been explored by regional stakeholders. However, for a combination of reasons, those attempts did not get beyond the point of an early draft, with little substance and no progress made on the matter,” Concacaf President Victor Montagliani said.

“The time is right for the Caribbean and Concacaf, with the support of FIFA, to lead the way to develop a comprehensive study which has the sole aim of the development of football in the Caribbean and the region as a whole.

“This is not about a league in isolation but also about the professionalisation of football and its players, coaches and administrators in the region. This newly created group, with strong representation from the Caribbean, will take a football first approach and will be given sufficient time to consider a range of potential formats and structures.

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