Premier League kicks off with eight sides

The first ever Cayman Islands Football Association Premier League competition kicks off on Sunday when eight teams compete for the first hold on this new and coveted title.

The participating teams are Elite FC, Future SC, George Town SC, Latinos FC, Roma United, Scholars International, Sunset FC and Tigers FC. An official fixture will be circulated today.

The previous date for the start of the competition was on September 28, however this was rescheduled due to the national senior men’s Digicel Caribbean Championship Stage Two competition in Guadeloupe this week.

This Premier League competition 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.

The goal 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.

It is expected that by introducing these criteria, Cayman Islands Football Association hopes to not only improve the quality of play this season, but to ensure that clubs participate and accept responsibility for the long-term technical development of the islands young footballers.

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’.