6/8/2009– NEW YORK – The CONCACAF Emergency Committee has awarded Costa Rica a third berth in the 2009-2010 Champions League, re-assigning the spot from Nicaragua’s Real Esteli, which did not meet the stadium standards required under the tournament regulations.
Herediano will take the berth based on its runner-up finish in the Costa Rican Verano championship and having a better record than Invierno runner-up Alajuelense over the two seasons.
Under tournament regulations, Nicaragua’s berth was to be granted to Panama based on their clubs’ performances this past season in the Champions League. But a nation needs two available stadia to accommodate three teams, and Panama has only one.
With Honduras already granted a third berth, made available by the forfeiture of Belize’s berth for the same reasons as Real Esteli, the remaining Central American teams: Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala all had equal performance co-efficients. The Emergency Committee therefore decided to award Nicaragua’s berth to Costa Rica based on its teams’ better historical performance in international competition.
Last season, teams that did not have an adequate stadium to stage games where allowed to travel outside their home country but within their region to play home matches. The CONCACAF Executive Committee in November decided to end the one-year grace period, require all teams meet the stricter stadium standards for 2009-2010 and devised a formula based on performance to re-allocate the berths.
Honduras, which had Marathon reach the quarterfinals in February, had the best performance co-efficient of any Central American and received Belize’s berth when it was determined the latter did not have an adequate stadium. Real Espana was the beneficiary, claiming the berth to join fellow Honduran clubs Marathon and Olimpia.
The decision leaves only two berths unclaimed in the 24-team field, a second berth from both Guatemala and Panama.