Local schoolboy football organisers Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) announced plans to yet again re-evaluate the structure of its historic Walker and Ben Francis knockout competitions, which had come in for some criticism last season.

The plans were announced as the details of the 2019-2020 season were revealed at the official competitions' launch at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel, in St Andrew on Wednesday. The 2019 season is scheduled to kick off on Saturday, September 7 with seven Manning Cup games and 31 daCosta Cup matches.

Digicel, in its second stint as title sponsors, last year announced that the telecommunications firm and entertainment provider would invest $75 million over three years in the urban area Manning Cup and Walker Cup Knockout competitions. Wisynco, then, announced a sponsorship package of close to $100 million, over the three years, in the rural area daCosta Cup and Ben Francis Knockout.

The 2019 season will see 129 teams competing for the six trophies. In addition to the Manning Cup and daCosta Cup, teams will also compete for the Walker Cup Knockout, Ben Francis Knockout Cup, Champions Cup, and the season-ending Olivier Shield.

The Ben Francis and Walker Cup competitions were labelled the "losers cup" as last year's format prevented top schools from competing.

Linvern Wright, who announced the structure of the competitions, pointed out that ISSA would not revert to the original format of the Walker Cup and the Ben Francis Cup.

He said, "last year we were experimenting. We listened and have made changes but will not go back to the original formats.

"The commitment continues to ensure that our players are rested for at least 72 hours between games."

For the Ben Francis Cup Knockout, teams which placed second and third in the four respective daCosta Cup quarter-final groups will contest this competition.

Last year, teams which ended third and fourth in the four respective daCosta Cup quarter-final groups contested the Ben Francis, which was a major change compared to the previous year when only the top four daCosta Cup teams competed for the title.

The Ben Francis Knockout Cup will be played in three sets of matchups in three rounds, with the second round being the semi-finals and the third round, the final. 

In the Walker Cup competition, all teams knocked out in the Round of 16 home-and-away second round tie of the Manning Cup will be involved in a playoff, with the winners matching up in a subsequent round with the third and fourth place teams in each of the two Manning Cup quarterfinal groups for four matchups.

The winners of each of those games will qualify for the semi-finals. 

Last season, the Walker Cup competition comprised the eight losers of the Manning Cup Round of 16 home-and-away knockouts;  a major change compared to former years when the seven preliminary round group winners and the best second-place teams earned the right to contest that competition.

SportsMax will be media partners and will broadcast selected matches live throughout the season.

 

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