Africa Football Competitions Proposal

Published on 19th January 2015

Below is a brief proposal for a format for the three club competitions (CAF Champions League;CAF Confederations Cup and CAF Super Cup) to hopefully among other things make the tournaments more competitive and fan friendly.

Organisational structure

I suggest a change in the format of the competition.  Here is how: We divide the continent into four club regions, known as conferences, that is the 1) Southern, 2) East & Central,  3) Western and 4) Northern. This is done, notwithstanding the existing regional structures but only for the purpose of top flight club football.  The countries must have touching borders and there must be no gaps across a region/conference except in the instance of island nations. Each region will have a minimum of ten (10) or more leagues but not exceed sixteen (16). {See nations & grouping criteria}

The competition

Regional or conference competition

The top leagues in each country will contribute at least one (1) team being the title holders from the previous season. No region can have more than sixteen (16) leagues so the rest of the teams will be decided on by league strength and seeding system and even a knock out qualifier match. The bigger leagues will have a higher quota of teams up to a maximum of four (4).The 32 teams from each region will be grouped and seeded in a draw to ensure the basic fair necessities are met. {See league seeding}

The teams will be in four (4) groups of eight (8). They play once against one another for points. The better seeded team plays away, meaning the top seeded team in a group will play all their seven (7) games at this stage away from home. The 2nd seeded team in that group will play one (1) game at home i.e. against the top seeds and the other six (6) games away, and so on. The eighth seeded team in the group will play all their games at home.  {See team seeding} The top four by a point system qualify for the regional round of sixteen {16}

The best losers by points and goals from all groups join the CONFEDERATIONS CUP representatives, who are the domestic cup winners from each league in instances where the conference has less than sixteen {16} leagues. The Confederations Cup stars here with sixteen teams per conference.

Champions League and Confederations Cup round of sixteen {16}

Another draw is done to pair the sixteen teams into a two (2) legged home and away aggregate knock out tie for each competition in each conference. The main objective of this draw is to avoid top seed and same league clashes. Basically number ones play number threes and number twos play number fours but avoiding same league clashes. The winners proceed to the round of eight (8), for another separation draw to avoid top seed clashes and the ties are numbered from {1} one to four {4}. Winners of QF1 play winners of QF3, winners of QF2 versus winners of QF4 in a home and away two (2) legged semi-finals.
The two finalists don’t play the final; instead, they join finalists from the other conferences to make eight teams. A draw is conducted to pair the teams for a Continental Super Quarter Final

Continental showdown (Supper Eight {8})

The competition proceeds in two legged ties, home and away, until the final which is played over one leg at predetermined neutral venues where both Champions League and Confederations Cup winners are both crowned within the week. The two winners face off in the Supper Cup match to be played at the home of the Confederations Cup winners to signal the start of the new season.

The qualifying criteria for the next season remains unchanged, it is determined by domestic performances year by year, so there are no special provisions for defending champions.
Some of the reasons and inspiration

•Make the tournaments a little more vibrant and fan friendly. Imagine a game between the champions of say Mozambique in the south and the champions of Mali at the early stage of the competition in its current format. Such a game may be a non event continentally, even in the home countries, but the same game at super QF stage could be very different.  Similarly at the early stages of the tournament if either of these teams would play a team from a neighbouring country; that game will definitely attract more attention and fans. It will attract more sponsors and advertisers and inevitably more of the much needed REVENUE. We should not underestimate the power of culture and traditional neighbourly rivalry in sport, especially at club or grassroots level.

•For the Champions League alone, thirty two (32) teams from four regions/conferences gives us a total of one hundred and twenty eight (128) teams vying for one continental crown, the eventual finalists will play nineteen (19) games. The exposure for teams and players alike is tremendous.

•The smaller clubs will have numerous benefits including financial from the home games in the group stage against the bigger teams; it’s a form of empowerment action for the smaller clubs in a sense.Smaller clubs get a chance to host the bigger clubs and flex their muscles to try and finish in the top four of the group at the earliest stage of the competition. They will be forced by circumstances to raise their standards, right from playing style to the grounds and dressing rooms. This can only propel African football to greater heights.

•Bigger leagues have the opportunity to field more teams in the competition; it makes sense and increases the level and desire of competition even in the domestic league. It is no longer just about 1st place and avoiding relegation, there is now something tangible to play for to be 2nd, 3rd or 4th.

•Africa is a vast continent with many logistical challenges in terms of infrastructure, such as transport, a regional competition would ease these challenges without stopping the game. This can also be a great platform for political or administrative organisations such as the A.U to cement regional cohesion and awareness.

•Comparatively, the eventual winners of the European competition may play about fourteen (14) or fifteen (15) games, with fewer clubs competing, only thirty two (32).

•The regional contest opens room for local smaller and relevant sponsors to play a role.In my country,  very few people know what business the current sponsors are involved in because this very company does not operate in the majority of the countries in the region. That’s such a waste. There is plenty of room to strike great partnerships and sponsorship deals at various stages of the competition. More games, more participants, more revenue, more fans, more media and exposure all this equates to real growth of the beautiful game.I believe a game between say, 2nd placed Highlanders of Zimbabwe and 2nd placed Orlando Pirates of South Africa at regional stage can generate more revenue and hype than most finals we have seen before.

•The conference or regional format has potential to foster effective club management and grow knowledge and interest in the beautiful game at grassroots level.

•When it gets to Super 8 QF stage, the whole world will be watching, the big sponsors will roll in. More revenue and exponential growth is the result. We need to be able to fully exploit our commercial viability and permanently occupy afternoon television time slots; this is the 12 noon to 20:00 GMT before we have other leagues from another continent take over our airwaves.

By Pride Taisa Tshuma
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