Cayman Islands Football Association leaders are hoping to finish the 2019/20 Premier League season which was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s looking promising,” CIFA president Alfredo Whittaker said.
There are six matches remaining in the Premier League season and plenty at stake, Whittaker told the Cayman Compass. Bodden Town and Scholars remain in contention for the League title while Alliance and North Side are locked in a battle to avoid relegation. CIFA leaders also hope to hold both the men’s and women’s President’s Cup finals.
Whittaker said the resumption of play would only come with “the guarantee that the teams are comfortable with the situation on island”.
CIFA-sanctioned youth leagues are already cancelled for the season and only the senior league and tournament games are being considered.
Matches would be played without fans and with restrictions on how many coaches and support personnel were allowed on the field. Whittaker said the league is “still working on” protocols for physical distancing near bench areas.
“My suggestion would be to the clubs that we should take the opportunity to get all of the players tested,” Whittaker said, adding that many of the league’s players are frontline workers who may be in a good position to be scheduled for COVID-19 tests. “Once clubs get players tested and they’re comfortable, we could sit down to discuss the restart of the league.”
Some around the league have expressed doubt that league could or should resume.
“I honestly believe there are too many unknowns to make a valid case for this, we don’t have the kind of funding to test all players,” Cayman Athletic coach Antwan Seymour said. “Nor do we have enough discipline players in our amateur league to stay isolated after testing to just train and play.”
The resumption of CIFA matches would come only after curfew restrictions are eased. Whittaker suggested giving clubs a month to prepare before games are played. CIFA is eyeing a potential restart date in late July, he said.
Should things go to plan, he said CIFA leaders would also look at the possibility of playing the FA Cup.
While youth leagues have been cancelled, Whittaker said there are already proposals to start youth football “festivals” as well as community league matches that would be aimed at preparing for next season.
The announcement comes on the heels of Germany’s top-tier football league, Bundesliga, resuming play over the weekend. It marks the first major European league to restart play, doing so behind closed doors.
“It’s healthy to start watching football again,” Whittaker said. “So long as everybody’s safe and we don’t have nothing to regret a few weeks down the line, it’s fantastic.”