THE 2018 season of the TT Pro League will finally begin on August 10, two weeks after its original opening date.
Pro League CEO Julia Baptiste, in an interview last week, said the League, which was set to kick off on July 27, was pushed back by a week to August 3. In a press release yesterday, the Pro League delayed the start of the new season by another week.
Pro League Chairman Richard Fakoory, discussing Monday’s board meeting, said, “We voted on what date to start, when the clubs will have their houses in order; it’s not a unanimous decision, it was a close decision, but it was in favour of going to the 10th.”
This season, which is expected to run until December, will feature two rounds of matches with each team playing each other twice.
There has also been concerns over the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs’ refusal to issue subventions to eight of the 10 participating clubs – reigning champs North East Stars, W Connection, Club Sando, Point Fortin Civic, Central FC, St Ann’s Rangers, Morvant Caledonia United and San Juan Jabloteh.
Sports Minister Shamfa Cudjoe has made it clear that all the clubs (excluding Police FC and Defence Force) must be compliant – especially with their financial records – before the subventions are released via the Sports Company of TT (SporTT).
Newsday has been informed that W Connection and Point Fortin Civic are not yet compliant with SporTT’s policy. According to a source, Connection is expected to submit all their documents to SporTT by Friday.
Addressing the issue of compliance, Renee John-Williams, president of W Connection, said yesterday, “W Connection (is) compliant with the TTFA (TT Football Association). It’s a TTFA issue but I wouldn’t comment publicly on my club’s internal matters. We’re TTFA compliant.”
Reynold Carrington, coach/manager of Point Fortin Civic, said yesterday compliance was an upper management issue and he is currently focusing on preparing the team for the new season.
SporTT chairman Douglas Camacho urged the clubs to become fully compliant so that funds will be released.
“I know that the Cabinet had approved of some funds for football to be used specifically for the clubs in the Pro League,” Camacho said. “I imagine the process will be now that they will ensure that the Pro League clubs are compliant, and once everything is in order then they’ll make the request through the Ministry of Sport for the release of the funds. I know it’ll be dependent on all the clubs being compliant.”
Fakoory, who replaced Joseph Sam Phillip as the league’s chairman earlier this year, shared Camacho’s views.
“All clubs will have to be compliant,” he said. “Those clubs who are not compliant will just have to put in (their documents) and then we’ll all be on board. We have affirmative confirmation that the subvention is there for (the league), it’s just that we have to put our house in order. I would continue to say, with or without Government subvention, football will play.”
Fakoory, who is also owner of St Ann’s Rangers, continued, “Some clubs will cry and say they can’t play without it, but you know what, they will. I know the subvention is forthcoming.”
Another owner, Central FC’s Brent Sancho, said his club was the first among the Pro League bunch to be fully compliant. But he is wondering why his club is suffering due to the tardiness of a few. Central FC players, who won the First Citizens Cup less than two weeks ago, have gone on strike as they’ve not been paid for several months.
“As it stands right now, we’re still awaiting word,” he said. “Central (was) the first club to be compliant.”
He continued, “A lot of the players are still committed to the club. It’s a bit of disappointment. There is a belief around the camp that football just has not been treated right over the last two years.”
Sancho, the ex-national team defender, is wondering if the funds are really available to distribute to the clubs.
“We had a similar situation when the last time we were given subventions there were several clubs that weren’t compliant, and they gave cheques to the clubs that weren’t,” Sancho said. “To me, it seems like it’s a stalling tactic. I have to question whether or not the money is really there. This league is the premier league of the country,” he declared.
The former Sports Minister said he is also struggling to attract sponsors to invest in his club.
“Over the last two to three weeks, we must have sent out over 60 e-mails to potential sponsors, asking to sponsor the club or sponsor a particular player (but) we haven’t had any word back. I’ve lost faith with corporate Trinidad and Tobago,” said Sancho.
SOURCE: T&T Newsday