"Let's revert to National League football," said Sam Phillips, former T&T Pro League chairman, yesterday.
He believes it's a temporary solution to the ongoing problems being faced in the country's struggling Pro League which has been totally dependant on government through the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs and the Sports Company of T&T for survival.
Speaking to Guardian Sports on Friday, Phillips, who has held key managerial positions at some of the country's top football clubs, said considering the current economic environment, it will be totally unfair to ask the government to keep pumping money into the league.
Eight of the 10 clubs currently receive grants of $50,000 per month (for seven months) to help off-set cost of salaries for players and staff. Last year the government came to the rescue of the pro league with a grant of $11.1 million after complaints from a number of players that their clubs were not paying them. The league's start was also delayed by a few months because it had no cash.
But Phillips believes football organisers can return to the days when there was one national league comprising of different divisions.
"It can be called Division One, Two, Three or Four, with the option of using the present pro league as the top division, and players will have the option to work and play if they want. The main thing is that there will not be the responsibility by clubs to pay players," Phillips said.
"They can even use the same organisers of the different competitions to run the affairs of various divisions, for example, organisers of the T&T Super League can be responsible the Division Two competition while those in charge of Regional Association football will manage at the third division and so on."
Phillips has highlighted a number of reasons for the pro league and clubs' inability to be self-sustainable and they include the quality of play on the field which has been severely impacted by the attitude, behaviour and indiscipline of players and their management teams alike. To drive home his point, Phillips said the dress code and deportment of some managers/coaches during matches have left much to be desired.
Phillips said he has also encountered situations where some pro league players were seen representing amateur clubs at minor leagues which confuses supporters of seeing them play for free at one time and having to pay to see them, at another.
Phillips said if there is a return to the National League system, it will give clubs and organisers sufficient time to put a professional league format in place for the future, saying there can be consultation among all the stakeholders in the sport before a real professional league is introduced.
"Clubs will get the opportunity to secure its own home grounds and do what is necessary at the community level to be sustainable. They can also focus on becoming compliant according to the TTFA and FIFA regulations," Phillips said.