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By the hook or the crook. That’s the extent to which Central FC Sharks will be going to ensure participation in  the play-offs in Group Three of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship in Montego Bay, Jamaica, from Wednesday to Sunday. Up to yesterday, the club was still short of its financial obligations to fulfill its fixtures but operations manager Kevin Harrison said that plans were well underway for their 6 a.m. flight tomorrow.

All 22 players received vaccines for yellow fever yesterday, one of the requirements which was compulsory before travelling to Jamaica. 

Harrison said they were awaiting responses from companies from whom they requested financial help. Their bill amounted to $35,000, of which $15,000 was a balance for airfare and accommodation while $20,000 was for yellow fever vaccines. Harrison said the cost of the vaccines was reduced to $15,000 courtesy corporate T&T.

Harrison said the ‘Sharks’ will attempt to raise funds to pay airfare when they return. He gave the assurance his team will go to the play-offs but lamented the embarrassment being faced to do so. “By the hook or the crook, we will be going. I cannot tell you how, but I just know we will be going.”
Central FC are the defending champs of the regional tournament following a dominant season last year in which they made a clean sweep in the domestic competitions.

Monies won are still to be collected, including $1 million for the Digicel Pro League. Harrison said this and a broken promise by the Sport Company of T&T to cover the $130, 000 for airfare and accommodation have put them in a position where they cannot meet their expenses. He told the Guardian the issue is more than football.

“This will pose tremendous embarrassment to the country, the Caribbean and the world at large, as the club will be representing T&T. Can you imagine how it will look if the regional champions cannot defend their title because of financial problems?”     

The team will attempt to qualify from a three-team group that comprises Scholars International of the Cayman Islands and the host team Montego Bay United FC at the Montego Bay Sports Complex. The Central Sharks will face Scholars on Friday and then Montego Bay United on Sunday. Only the top team will advance.

The Sharks will attempt to follow local rivals W Connection which hosted ‘Group One’ two weeks ago and finished at the top with maximum nine points. The teams in that group were Club Sportif Moulien (Guadeloupe), Inter Moengo Tapoe (Suriname) and Atletico of the Dominican Republic).

RELATED NEWS

Money woes hampering Central FC’s CFU defence
T&T Newsday Reports.

Reigning Digicel TT Pro League and CFU Caribbean Club Champions, Bankers Central FC will fly to Jamaica to defend their title tomorrow not knowing if they can actually cover the cost of the trip.

“We submitted a budget for the competition to SPORTT on 2nd January and it was indicated to us that the flights would be covered.” said Managing Director, Brent Sancho, in a press release.

“But we were told on March 1st that we would only receive 60 percent of the costs.

We were due to fly out on the 8th and this left us with a week to raise $65,000” Central, who are seven points clear of Defence Force at the top of the TTP ro League, are on an unbeaten run of 13 games stretching back to December.

“The team is in great form. In fact this is the best spell in the clubs four-year history.” said Sancho.

“Our preparation on the field has been good. But off the field, we continually battle with finances. A cut in Government subvention would be perfectly acceptable and understandable.

But coming in mid-season when all clubs have created budgets based on $83,000 is a bitter blow. Even worse, the subventions are now always late.

These subventions specifically cover part of the clubs salaries. We can’t tell players in January that they won’t be paid until March! To make matters worse, the cut in subvention is retrospective, so while we have spent money that we budgeted for, we will receive $33,000 per month less.” Sancho says that the club is grateful to SPORTT chairman Michael Phillips and Anthony Creed for the support that they are giving. But the cuts are coming from higher up and there is no thought to the effect they are having.

“Because we have lost the seats that were reserved, we now have to fly a day late via Panama.

To travel through Panama there is a World Health Organisation requirement that every passenger has a yellow fever vaccination certificate.

So now we have to arrange yellow fever vaccinations for the entire squad and staff,” said Sancho.

“This will cost between $15,000 to $20,000. Ideally you would get these shots a few weeks before you travel because there will be side effects and we need our players at 100 percent fitness. Because of all these cuts, the shots won’t be given until Monday 7th March, two days before we travel.” Sancho said that the club literally went begging to corporate T&T for assistance.

“To be honest, we were pleasantly surprised by the reception we received.” said Sancho.

“Everyone says that Corporate T&T will not support football.

But we found it completely the opposite.

There were some companies that wanted to help but couldn’t, but others were adamant that Central had to defend their title. We raised $50,000 in two days, so we booked the flights and pray we can raise the outstanding amounts before we leave. I’d like to personally thank both Bankers Insurance and Ansa McAL for their support in getting us to Jamaica.”