Players from San Juan North Secondary in action during the 2016 SSFL season

The executive of the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) is seeking legal advice to determine if a decision by the general council of the SSFL to include demoted San Juan North Secondary School in the top flight competition this season, is legal and can stand.

On Wednesday, Joseph Taylor, the school’s vice principal moved a motion at an extraordinary general council meeting for his school to be included in the league, due to the alleged inefficiencies and tardiness of members of the Credentials and Disciplinary Committees. When the vote was taken San Juan received 20 votes in favour, while 18 members voted against, which effectively means that the premier division will now comprise 16 teams instead of 15, when the league kicks-off in September. The division has never had more than 15 teams.

The SSFL sent out the final standing of the league’s for the 2016 season last week which followed the rulings by both committees after appeals and protests were lodged. The table showed San Juan North among three teams being relegated from the premier division. On Wednesday, Taylor challenged their position in regards to the final standing, saying it was due mainly to the members of the committees not doing their jobs properly. He is contending that players who were ineligible to represent their schools, should have been spotted and stopped from action within seven days of a protest being lodged.

“Instead what we had, was that the players were allowed to play for the entire season and then the credentials and disciplinary committees coming months after, when teams are preparing for the coming season, to say the school has been demoted. Well that is not right. We should not have to pay the consequences for the inefficiencies of the SSFL members,” Taylor explained.

He made it clear his stance was in no way, against the league’s constitution, saying, “We simply went to the general council, which has the power to decide how many teams should play in the league and we were granted a place. This clearly shows that no decision was overturned. Instead, what we did was to challenge the inefficiencies of the members of the committees.”

The credential committee of the SSFL was chaired by Azaad Khan and includes Gerald Elliot, Lawrence Seepersad, the SSFL’s assistant secretary of operations and a member from each zone when adjudicating on matters.

The disciplinary committee on the other hand comprised chairmen Seepersad and Elliot and other members Andre Moses, Brian Williams, Kirt Harry, Rudolph Hope, Wayne Caesar, Ezziel Seecharan, Trevor Bridgelalsingh and Leo Braithwaite.

Both committees acted on protests that East Mucurapo Secondary and Presentation College (San Fernando) used Abdus Ramcharan and Kori Cupid respectively during the league, but neither was stopped.

Taylor in his argument pointed out that the protests were made well into the season, but committee members allowed them to go on. “The credentials committee has a responsibility to look at the credentials of students and determine whether they can play or not and the disciplinary acts on concerns,” Taylor said.

He called on members to carry out their jobs with high standards, saying the league is an important one that is growing and officials must be held accountable.

Meanwhile, Elliot who was among the 18 who voted against Taylor’s argument at the Carapichaima Secondary School, confirmed that SSFL officials will definitely seek the advice of a legal counsel before they move forward.

He said Wednesday’s support for Taylor and his school is sending the wrong message to the public at large but more so the youngsters who the league represents. “It has placed the league in a bad light. It is telling any school that feels aggrieved that it can challenge key rules and laws. This was definitely a wrong decision which can pose more problems for the league in the future,” Elliot said.

The SSFL will now have to decide on how relegation of teams from the premier division as well as promotion of teams from the Championship Division will be done. It is scheduled to begin September 8.