So this has FINALLY been formalized and was much needed.
The CONCACAF Champions Cup is going the way of the dinosaur and becoming a UEFA Champions League/Libertadores style event instead which promises to add more drama.
Here are some of the details from the CONCACAF website:
CONCACAF announced today the official launch of the new continental club championship, the CONCACAF Champions League which will commence in August 2008. The CONCACAF Champions League will replace the Champions’ Cup which will cease to exist after the 2008 edition.
The CONCACAF Champions League will see a Confederation record number of 24 teams from all sectors of the CONCACAF region participating. The preliminary round begins in August 2008 with the first CONCACAF Champions League winner to be crowned in late April 2009.
The CONCACAF Champions League will feature four teams from Mexico and USA; three Caribbean sides; two clubs each from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama; and one representative coming from Canada, Belize, and Nicaragua.
Eight clubs (two Mexican, two USA, one each from Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador) will be seeded and progress directly to the first round of the CONCACAF Champions League, while the Caribbean slots have been increased to three teams for this event.
The remaining 16 teams will be paired in eight home-and-away preliminary match-ups taking place from 26-28 August and 2-4 September.
Though I have one question: What’s up with the 1 team from Canada thing? Last time I checked Canada participated in both the USL and MLS and there is currently only one division 1 (MLS) side active in Canada.
Surely that can’t mean that Toronto FC gets an automatic berth every year until they add another Canadian side does it? Even then: Why?
If they must have teams from all nations, then it’s time to fold TFC now or for Canada to create their own league. I don’t see that happening, but it’s a sham if a team as shitty as TFC was on the pitch last year gets and automatic berth into the regional club championship and by extension a possible invite to the wildly lucrative FIFA Club World Cup.
Someone at CONCACAF has some explainin’ to do (which isn’t the first time) but other than that peccadillo; I really love the change.
Things keep on growing in the US and CONCACAF in terms of soccer/football. Exciting times my friends. Exciting times.
Check out the schedule of events after the break
2008-09 CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Calendar of Events
End July: All qualification completed, draw for preliminary round
26-28 August: Preliminary Round, First-legs
2-4 September: Preliminary Round, Second-legs
Early September: Group Stage Schedule Announced
16-18 September: Group Stage – Match Day 1
23-25 September: Group Stage – Match Day 2
30 September – 2 October: Group Stage – Match Day 3
7-9 October: Group Stage – Match Day 4
21-23 October: Group Stage – Match Day 5
28-30 October: Group Stage – Match Day 6
24-26 February: Quarterfinals, First-legs
3-5 March: Quarterfinals, Second-legs
17-19 March: Semifinals, First-legs
7-9 April: Semifinals, Second-legs
21-23 April: Final, First-leg
28-30 April: Final, Second-leg
December: FIFA Club World Cup