Caribbean could have professional league in three-four years - Webb

LONDON Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:20pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - A professional Caribbean league spanning the mainly island nations would boost football's development in the region and could be a reality in three or four years, CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb said on Tuesday.

Webb said although the idea was still in its infancy, he was setting up a commission to examine whether it could become a reality. A previous proposal for a professional league failed to materialise three years ago.

During a break at CONCACAF's Sports Summit of its 41 member associations, Webb told journalists on a conference call there was support for the idea from ex-players from the region like Dwight Yorke who played for Manchester United and Aston Villa.

"We will do a full analysis to see how realistic it is and then establish some strategic business plan so this could become a reality in three to four years," said Webb.

"We have heard from various players, such as Dwight Yorke, about the impact a professional league might have had on his career. Perhaps if we had had a professional set-up during his development his talents may have been even greater.

"We have so much talent in the region, the game here needs a professional league, a professional approach. It would be good for the Caribbean to have a professional league, if we could sustain it."

FOUR COUNTRIES

Only four Caribbean countries have appeared in the World Cup in its near 84-year history: Cuba (1938), Haiti (1974), Jamaica (1998) and Trinidad & Tobago (2006).

Webb added: "We have had only two countries from the English-speaking Caribbean qualify for the World Cup, and let's not have to wait another 100 years before we get that level of success. We are looking for some progress.

"We are hoping to fast-track this (professional league). We need economic partners and the support of governments.

"The infrastructure would have to be set up and we'd be looking to some experts to help develop a platform, a business plan and something that we believe could be sustained.

"We will set up a task force or commission to look at the sustainability as far as the financial aspects, franchisees, market size, infrastructure and the format of the league are concerned."

The CONCACAF confederation comprises countries from North and Central America, and the Caribbean.

A total of 31 nations make up the Caribbean Football Union, including associate member Bonaire and three on the South American continent: Surinam, Guyana and French Guiana.

(Reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Robert Woodward)

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