Focus is on elections, no immediate plans for return to competition, says Gonsalves

There has been no competitive football at the domestic level since March 2020 (File photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

Although there have been some informal discussions regarding the possible return of football at the national level, president of the local association, Everton Gonsalves, said the main focus is ensuring the successful hosting of the body’s elections slated for April 25.

However, the former national striker said he would not be opposed to the staging of a knockout competition for which they have already secured sponsorship.

“Informally and amongst the competition group but we would certainly bring that to the executive level in due course and I am minded of the fact that other sports are in the prime of their season, and being the caring football association that we are, we wouldn’t want to be providing any difficulty for them to host their tournament, so we are looking at it carefully in terms of what is required. It was mentioned last night [Monday] that we have a major sponsor that is asking to put in $50,000 into a knockout competition,” he said. 

There has been no competitive football at the domestic level since March 2020 with the FA, in October that same year, declaring the competitions null and void, adding that a decision had been made to increase the number of teams in the top flight from 10 to 16.

Gonsalves said that despite the eagerness by both players and fans for the return of the various competitions, the health and safety of players and fans remain the association’s number one priority.

“The health of my members is of paramount importance. The health of Antigua and Barbuda also is part of that important matter to me, and so until it is safe to do so, I will do what I have to do. I am not the cause for the delayed elections, it is the Covid situation,” the president said.

In the decision reached in 2020, six teams from the First Division were elevated to the Premier Division while the top three teams from the two competing zones in the Second Division were elevated to the First Division.

Garden Stars FC, Bendals FC, Lion Hill FC, JSC Progressors, Young Lions FC and Green City FC have all been promoted from the Second Division, while Empire FC, Sap FC, FC Aston Villa, Tryum FC, Blue Jays FC and Willikies FC will play in the now 16-team Premier Division.

No winners were crowned while no teams will be relegated from either the Premier or the First Division.

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