The Cayman Islands Football Association is preparing itself for the start of its inaugural Premier League season, which kicks off on Sunday 28 September.
This competition is the first of its kind on the island. It has been created to accommodate the growing number of teams in the Cayman Islands and will also bring a dramatic element with the prospect of relegation into the Foster’s First Division facing the bottom two teams.
The bottom placed team will automatically be relegated, whilst the second-bottom team will enter into a playoff match against the second-placed team in the First Division for the right to play in the Premier League.
CIFA President Jeffrey Webb said that the intention of this competition is to realize the standards of domestic football in the Cayman Islands both on and off the pitch.
The prospect of relegation will not only create drama and interest for supporters, but will push each team harder in the knowledge that if there is lack of preparation and hard work the team will be punished.
Entry into the first season of the Premier League went to the top eight teams in last season’s Foster’s Senior Men’s League.
This includes a new set of rigorous criteria that each team must meet in order to be accepted. These include stricter regulations on player registration; safeguards such as ensuring each player is proved medically fit and sufficiently insured; improvement to club infrastructure; and specific requirements for coaches’ qualifications and youth and women’s development.
Each team is required to have a technical director or coach qualified to the highest domestic level as well as at least one youth team in the 12-14 age range, and one team in the 16-21 age range, each with separate coaches.
‘By introducing these criteria, we are hoping to not only improve the quality of play this season, but ensure that clubs participate and accept responsibility for the long-term technical development of our young footballers,’ Webb said.
‘The English FA’s assistance in developing a new coaching qualification and coaches association will assist greatly in this respect.
‘All too often youth teams have been coached by the same officials as senior teams and they have been overlooked when fixtures clash.
‘The new regulations should avoid this happening in the future. As always, our ultimate goal is improving the quality of our young players, and from there the Cayman Islands national team.’
The remaining men’s teams will be entered into the Foster’s First Division, and will not be subject to such stringent requirements.
However, teams promoted to the Premier League at the end of each season will have to show that they can meet the new criteria in order to be accepted.
Promotion will be automatic for the league champions, if they win the play-off with the second-bottom Premier League team, the runners-up.
The new league is yet to find a corporate sponsor, although according to Webb, CIFA is ‘currently in discussions with several groups’.