The “eat ah food” mentality is slowly killing local football, according to one official at a Pro League club.
The backroom staff, who wished to remain anonymous, made the claim yesterday as he complained he has not been paid for the past six months.
The official said the future of the league is uncertain and called on the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) to step in and help pay the salaries of players, coaches and backroom staff.
The league has been in increasing peril as Government has been late in paying its monthly subventions to the clubs. Subventions, previously at $83,000, were cut to $50,000, as Government looked to trim its expenses due to the downturn in the economy. But even at the reduced cost, the payments have not been forthcoming.
The official yesterday blamed the Pro League and the Government for the current crisis.
“You have at a club, sometimes, one player making $20,000 a month and another making $3,000. One player gets pay and another ent get nothing. How that can happen? You’re supposed to be compliant, according to FIFA, but some clubs don’t want to sign their form because they don’t want to reveal how they running their clubs.
“It’s tough, after over 10 years in the league, I have to go through this. Sometimes players get injured and they have nothing to get. There is no insurance or players union. Earl ‘Mango’ Pierre has been calling for a union but our players are too divided to get this started.” He said for the league to become sustainable, the clubs have to reinvent themselves to the public and get back into the communities.
“The clubs have to work harder. People used to support the players back then and they were more marketable. The atmosphere was nicer at the community grounds. We saw (Morvant Caledonia coach) Jamaal (Shabazz) try ah thing (at Morvant Recreation Ground) in Park Street and get a nice crowd last season,” he said.
He said the league must return to playing matches in community grounds so clubs can generate income from gate receipts.
“Trinidadians don’t support Pro League because the venues too far and they don’t know the players. Sometimes they send two south teams to play in central. The Ato Boldon Stadium (in Couva) and Manny Ramjohn (in Marabella) are the most difficult grounds to get to in the world.”
He cited teams such as Club Sando, previous North East Stars teams and Point Fortin Civic as templates others should follow.
“North East back in the day had about five or six players from Sangre Grande area on the team and people used to come and watch them play because they know them. But everybody wants to win at all costs now and that spoiling the football.
Everybody say they have to eat ah food and that killing the football. Administrators killing the football,” he said.
At the recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) last month, it was revealed the TTFA paid $945,000 to the Pro League in October and November to allegedly help finish the league.
The football official believes if they intervened then, they should do so now to ensure players and clubs are not destabilised due to the financial situation heading into the 2018 season.
He said currently, teams like Club Sando and Point Fortin Civic draw their talent from some of the top south schools such as Naparima College and therefore maintain their south fan-base.
“The Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) is being marketed and managed better than the Pro League,” he said.