Gonsalves Defends Decision To Promote 12 Teams, Increase Top Flight

The ABFA’s Premier Division will host 16 teams, an increase from its usual 10 teams. (File photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

President of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), Everton Gonsalves, has defended the body’s decision to increase its top flight by more than 50 percent when its executive committee, almost three weeks ago, implemented recommendations regarding the now abandoned 2019/20 domestic season.

“Football has grown in leaps and bounds and the English premier division has in 20 teams and there has been a clarion call for the reconstruction of our leagues, and so we will now feature a 16-team Premier division. We will also have an upgrade First Division and the Second Division, as usual, be exciting although primarily that is for development purposes. You cannot water down the ambition of those in the Second Division and they would be looking to find themselves in the Premier Division at some time,” he said. 

In a release issued early October, the ABFA revealed that its 2019/20 domestic competition had been ruled null and void and that a decision had been made to increase the number of teams in the top flight from 10 to 16.

The move meant that the top 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.

“In accordance with the statutes of the ABFA, it gives authority to the executive to decide on areas not provided for or areas they call or are referred to as force majeure. The ABFA went a step further where we created a survey and we distributed it to all our member clubs for them to provide feedback as to what they thought would be a fair way to bring the 2019/2020 season to an end,” he said.

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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