Monrovia — Two of Liberia's best football clubs, LISCR FC and Barrack Young Controller (BYC II), have pulled out of the proposed playoff of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) in order to determine the country's representative in the CAF Champions League and Cup.
Both clubs, in a separate communications to the LFA, cited financial reasons for their withdrawals from the playoffs.
LISCR FC are the defending champions of the FA Cup now called the Petro Trade Cup. It also qualified for the quarterfinals of the Petrol Cup. It is also fourth on the first division table meaning they were in contention for both spots to represent Liberia at the continental level.
In a release on May 4, 2020, the Football House informed the clubs and stakeholders that both the 2019/2020 Orange National League and the Petrol Trade Cup have been nullified due to the global Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
According to the LFA, its decision was as a result of an emergency executive committee meeting on 4th May. It was agreed that there will be no promotion and relegation of clubs at all levels, including the third division and community leagues in the 15 counties.
The clubs were also informed that the executive committee resolved to use a play-off of the top four teams in the first division in the event the Confederation of African Football (CAF) requests a representative from Liberia for the (CAF) Champions League, and the same format will also be used for the quarter-finalists in the Petro Trade Cup when football activities were suspended on March 17 to determine Liberia's representative for the CAF Confederation Cup.
The LFA on March 16, suspended all football activities across the country following the confirmation of a coronavirus case in the country when President George Weah addressed the nation.
Prior to the suspension of football activities, the top tier league should have ended on May 13, 2020, with nine rounds of games remaining at the time, while the second division should have ended on May 19, 2020, with 12 rounds of games still left and playoffs ending on June 1, 2020.
In the upper women's division, the league was still in its first phase with five rounds of games being played.
LISCR FC were seated 4th on the table with 20 points from 13 games while Mighty Barrolle topped the league with 23 point followed by Bea Mountain with 22 point and Monrovia Club Breweries at third place with 21 points.
The Shipping boys (LISCR) are also in the quarterfinal of the Petro Trade Cup and were paired against Barrack Young Controllers (BYC II).
In a statement on May 12, 2020, LISCR said they will not participate in any of the playoffs due to financial problems caused by the pandemic.
A statement from the defending FA cup champion states, "The club has made the decision not to participate in the playoffs proposed by the Liberia Football Association executive committee to determine Liberia's next representatives in the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup.
"The club finished fourth on the first division log and reached the quarterfinals of the Petro Trade Cup, thus qualifying to participate in all two playoffs.
"Due to the impact caused by the Coronavirus pandemic on the financial standing, the club has declined to participate in any of the playoffs if a request is sent to the Liberia Football Association by CAF for Liberia to have representatives in the next edition of continental club competitions. The club will instead start preparations for the next season which is expected to kickoff in October 2020.
"We offer our apologies to our fans who may feel let down by our decision. However, we hope you all understand the decision was taken in the best interest of all of us."
On May 14, BYC II wrote the LFA informing it of their decision not to participate in the playoff because they want to focus on their preparation for the next league.
Below is the full statement of BYC FC II: "The Board of Directors and Management of BYC Football Inc want to inform our most loyal fans, supporters, and the general public of BYC-II's withdrawal from the proposed LFA playoff in the Petro Trade Cup. We reached the quarterfinals before the LFA declared the 2019/2020 season 'null and void' on May 4, 2020.
"Our decision to withdraw comes with a heavy heart. It is simply in the best interest of the club. We are aware of the global pandemic in Liberia, and the entire world. Clubs/businesses will be negatively financially impacted with Liberia and us not exempted.
"The decision to withdraw from the proposed LFA playoff in the Petro Trade Cup (knockout) is based on the Board's decision of having a strong sustained future financial position for the upcoming 2020/2021 season set to commence in early October 2020.
"This comes as a disappointment to some of our supporters and we understand that. We are of the strongest conviction, our withdrawal from the playoff tournament is in the best and long termed interest of the club, fans, players, and staff.
Our commitment to Liberian football, our fans remains steadfast for the future. We look forward to welcoming all at our practices and games for the upcoming season."
It is yet not clear what will be LISCR and BYC II's punishment from the LFA for refusing to participate in the playoffs if requested by CAF.