On the Beach: My Initial Delve into the Caribbean Club Championship

Introduction

As you may have read previously on this blog, I have been doing a Football Manager-based series where I have been managing the Barbadian national team to some relative glory (the latest part of the series can be found HERE). It was whilst writing up these series of blogs and doing general research for it, that I have become interested in Caribbean and CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) international and club football in general. It’s an area of football that I have little knowledge about, and so I wanted to know more about it and its club football, and how it all fits into the CONCACAF pyramid.

The second regional tournament I have decided to look at is a logical continuation from the first blog that I did on Caribbean club football, the Caribbean Club Shield (blog found HERE), by look at the Caribbean Club Championship, the other and more senior regional competition involving Caribbean clubs.

Brief History of the Caribbean Club Championship

The Caribbean Club Championship (CCC) is the Caribbean Football Union’s (CFU) premier club competition, having first been established as an annual competition in 1997 to determine the region’s best club and serve as a qualifying event for the wider CONCACAF Champions League and CONCACAF League which are organised by CONCACAF.

The winner of the Caribbean Club Championship qualifies for the following year’s CONCACAF Champions League, whilst the runners-up and the third-placed team automatically qualify for the CONCACAF League, which is played later in the year. The fourth-placed team in the competition must play a one-legged play-off tie against the winners of the Caribbean Club Shield at a neutral venue, with the winner of that playoff game progressing to that year’s CONCACAF League, which normally commences in August.

From its beginning in 1997 to 2017 the competition was open to all CFU members who were entitled to send their league champions and runners-up to compete in the tournament. However it was usually only the bigger or wealthier leagues such as Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, etc, who actually managed to send both teams and fulfil their quota, with many countries not even sending one team to the competition. This resulted in varying numbers of teams competing each year and the tournament using a number of different formats depending on the number of competitors. However most commonly, the tournament used a group stage format before the group winners progressed to a knockout phase that would determine the competition’s winner.

In 2018, CONCACAF and the CFU changed the format of the Club Championship as part of developing football within the region. Only teams from the four ‘professional’ leagues of the CFU (Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti and the Dominican Republic) can compete in the new CCC, with usually the league champions and runners-up (or the best two performing teams) from the four countries taking part in the competition. All champions from ‘non-professional’ CFU leagues would now compete in the Caribbean Club Shield. However the option is always open for additional countries to rejoin the CCC in the future should the leagues develop into an acceptable standard of professionalism as determined by the CFU.

The Tournament Structure

The ‘slimmed down’ tournament still uses the same group-knockout format as previous editions of the competition albeit with fewer teams. The group stage takes place between late January and early February and held in one host country, with teams in each group playing each other just once. The competition is split into two groups with a club from each of the four countries in both groups, with the top-two ranked teams of both groups progressing to the knockout phase of the tournament.

TeamQualifier
DOM1Liga Dominicana de Fútbol grand final winners
DOM2Liga Dominicana de Fútbol aggregate table best team not yet qualified
HAI1Ligue Haïtienne Série d’Ouverture champions
HAI2Ligue Haïtienne Série de Clôture champions
JAM1National Premier League champions
JAM2National Premier League runners-up
TRI1TT Pro League champions
TRI2TT Pro League runners-up
How the eight teams can qualify from the four countries taking part in the Club Championship.

The knockout phase of the competition is ran later on in the season, usually taking place in the month of May, and hosted in another country. All the knockout ties are one-legged affairs which will require extra time and penalties to decide a winner when needed.

Despite eight teams being able to compete in this competition, only the 2018 edition of the CCC has had the maximum amount of teams taking part in the competition, with some teams having been restricted from entering in the 2019 and 2020 editions for the following reasons:

  • 2019: Dominican Republic clubs were not allowed to compete as the Dominican Republic FA hadn’t registered the teams on time, whilst clubs from Trinidad & Tobago could not compete as their FA hadn’t properly executed its club licensing programme effectively enough.
  • 2020: Once again T&T clubs were unable to compete due to the club licensing programme still not being executed properly by the TTFA.

Previous Winners

Flag of Trinidad & Tobago

In the competition’s 23-year history so far, it has been the clubs from Trinidad & Tobago who have been the most successful in the tournaments, having contributed 11 winners and a further 11 finalists. The most recent Caribbean Club Championship champion from Trinidad & Tobago was Central FC, who won their second consecutive CCC title by beating W Connection 3-0 in an all-Trinbagonian final in 2016:

  • Trinidad & Tobago: 11 winners & 11 finalists
  • Jamaica: 4 winners & 5 finalists
  • Puerto Rico: 2 winners & 1 finalist
  • Dominican Republic: 2 winners & 0 finalists
  • Haiti: 0 winners & 1 finalist
  • Suriname: 0 winners & 1 finalists

The most successful team in the competition’s history has been W Connection from Trinidad & Tobago, having clinched three titles and being finalists on a further six occasions. The Savonetta Boys from Marabella in southern Trinidad won their titles in 2002, 2006 and 2009, and last appeared in the final in 2016 (losing to fellow T&T side Central FC 0-3 as aforementioned).

There have been 12 different winners of the trophy, with the now dissolved Trinbagonian side United Petrotrin being the very first winner of the competition (before they sadly dissolved in 2009), whilst a further six clubs having reached the final without winning the trophy. Jamaica’s Arnett Gardens are the only side to have made multiple finals but have yet to claim the trophy, having lost in the 2002 and 2018 finals to W Connection and Atlético Pantoja respectively.

  • 3 Titles: W Connection [TRI]
  • 2 Titles: Joe Public [TRI]; Puerto Rico Islanders [PUR]; Portmore United [JAM]; Central FC [TRI]; Harbour View [JAM]
  • 1 Title: San Juan Jabloteh [TRI]; Caledonia AIA [TRI]; Atlético Pantoja [DOM]; Cibao [DOM]; Defence Force [TRI]; United Petrotrin [TRI]

Since the change in format in 2018 to just include four countries’ leagues, there have been the following winners of the Club Championship:

  • 2018: Atlético Pantoja [DOM]
  • 2019: Portmore United [JAM]
  • 2020: No winner declared.

2020 Cancelled Edition

Just as with many other competitions around the world, the 2020 Caribbean Club Championship was postponed and subsequently cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. However unlike its fellow CFU competition, the Club Shield, the group stage had actually taken place early in 2020 in Jamaica. As a result, it meant the CFU could determine the qualifiers for the relative CONCACAF competitions based on the results of what happened during the group phase. As Dominican Republic’s Atlético Pantoja was the only team to have won both of their group games and obtained 6 points, they were awarded the 2021 Champions League qualification berth.

The completed group stage of the 2020 Caribbean Club Championship [IMAGES: Wikipedia]

Fellow group topper, the Jamaican side Waterhouse, claimed the Last 16 spot in the 2020 CONCACAF League as the second-best team in the tournament, whilst the third-best side Arcahaie were also awarded a CONCACAF League spot for the preliminary stage. Dominican Republic’s Cibao, who had finished second behind Waterhouse on two points, would have had to play a playoff against the winner of the Club Shield, but with that competition having been completely cancelled by CONCACAF, they were awarded the final spot in the 2020 CONCACAF League. Don Bosco and Portmore United, the two teams who finished bottom of the groups, were eliminated and would not progress any further.

Qualification Results

PosTeamNatQualification
1stAtlético PantojaDOM2021 CONCACAF Champions League
2ndWaterhouseJAM2020 CONCACAF League Round of 16
3rdArcahaieHAI2020 CONCACAF League Preliminary Round
4thCibaoDOM2020 CONCACAF League Preliminary Round*
5thDon BoscoHAIELIMINATED
6thPortmore UnitedJAMELIMINATED

‘*- As the 2020 Caribbean Club Shield was cancelled due to COVID, Cibao was announced as the final qualifier due to their being no playoff available.

There concludes my initial delve into the Caribbean Club Championship competition, and the final competition organised by the CFU. The next tournament focuses should be on the CONCACAF tournaments that both the Caribbean Club Championship and Shield filter into – the secondary tournament of the CONCACAF League and the premier competition of the CONCACAF Champions League, and how the two continental club competitions interact with each other.

If you would like to know more about football in the Caribbean, the following sources of information are very useful:

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions for future competitions, or whatever, please put them in the comments box below, or tweet me on Twitter @The94thMin or even leave a comment on the Facebook page.

Cheers!!

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