Trinidad and Tobago's Under-20 team and newly-formed FC South End are the newest additions to the T&T Pro League.
"The T&T Pro League board of directors have approved a request from the TTFF (Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation) to have the national Under-20 team which just qualified for the World Cup in Egypt to participate in the 2009 season," said Pro League chief executive officer Dexter Skeene yesterday afternoon at the League's office in Curepe.
On Thursday afternoon, the same day as the Pro League board meeting, TTFF special adviser Jack Warner announced that the U20s will be part of the Pro League this season, which kicks off on April 24.
"The League is delighted to afford these young men quality preparation ahead of their all-important engagement in Eygpt," Skeene added.
The T&T U20s, currently competing in the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament, have already booked their place in Egypt. They tackled the USA in a semi-final match-up at the Marvin Lee Stadium last night vying for a spot in tomorrow's final.
"We have to know what's best for us (Trinidad and Tobago). This is a great environment for the Under-20s to ensure that T&T continues to qualify for World Cups," said Skeene,
However, the Pro League boss said there are issues to be sorted out with regards to the National U20s.
Some of the issues highlighted are the conflict of fixtures, players attached to professional clubs and tours. But Skeene is confident that the TTFF and clubs will work together in the best interest of Trinidad and Tobago.
FC South End were also confirmed by the Pro League CEO for the 2009 season. But fellow new applicants Marabella Flames FC, 1976 Phoenix FC and St Clair Coaching School failed to submit proper requirements.
"We gave (all four clubs) sufficient time to try and get all their requirements to get into the League given the economic climate. However, we continue to thank them. We are now urging them to continue to strive to be involved in professional football," said Skeene.
Skeene praised FC South End for their successful application and commended their effort in trying to revive the spirit of football that Point Fortin is known for.
The 2009 Pro League season will kick off with a Champions Shield, featuring the top four clubs of 2008-League champs San Juan Jabloteh, runners-up W Connection, Caledonia AIA and Joe Public.
Young Warriors in TT Pro League.
By: Walter Alibey (T&T Newsday).
THE Young Warriors which, only two days ago qualified for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt, has been accepted to play in this year’s TT Pro League scheduled to kick off April 24.
At a press briefing at the Pro League office in Curepe, yesterday, the league’s Chief Executive Officer Dexter Skeene said the move is to assist the Young Warriors in their preparation for the September 24- October 16 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
But he noted there are still issues to be ironed out with regards registration and transfer of players who play with different clubs.
“We feel it will be an opportunity for the team to prepare and represent Trinidad and Tobago to their best,” Skeene said.
Skeene also announced yesterday, that Southend FC will also be among the teams to contest this year’s TT Pro League along with Police, which has been re-accepted for the 2009 season.
Three other teams Marabella Flames, St Clair Coaching School, which is coached by ex-national coach Bertille St Clair and Angostura Phoenix did not meet the requirements for entry.
Skeene pointed out that while the board was satisfied with most of the applications by the teams, it was felt that more time was needed for proof that they can pay players consistently on a monthly basis.
Meanwhile, North East Stars which publicly expressed their disgust in their inability to have their matches played at the Sangre Grande Recreation ground asked to be excluded.
According to Skeene, North East Stars’ boss Daryl Mahabir asked for his team to be pulled out of the competition this year.
A clash between the league winners and winners of other competitions, San Juan Jabloteh, W Connection, Joe Public and Caledonia AIA will square off for the Champions Cup on April 24, which will signal the start of league action.
Skeene said the league will be followed by the staging of an Under-21 Reserve League, from which each team will be allowed to use five senior players.
The Under-21 tournament will also be the feeder programme to the TT Pro League this year.