Central FC faces an embarrassing exit from the Caribbean Club Championship if it does not raise monies for club travel by this week.
The Brent Sancho-owned team is scheduled to face round two of the championship in Jamaica in May, having progressed from Group B in February. The Sharks which have won the competition twice in the last three years, faces financial challenges and may not be able to take the field in Jamaica.
Sancho told Guardian Media Sports that he has requested assistance from the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs for monies to represent the country regionally, but to no avail.
“I have formally, on three occasions, requested assistance from the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs and SporTT to help alleviate the cost of travel to Jamaica for the tournament. My requests have fallen on deaf ears. Radio silence from both Darryl Smith and now Shamfa Cudjoe, who I sought an audience with last week and I am still yet to hear back from her directly. This is the biggest professional club football event in the Caribbean, yet no one in the Ministry recognises it as important. Surely the $150,000 used to cover up the sexual harassment scandal could have been better spent toward supporting this level of national representation.”
Sancho, an former national defender asked, "Is the lack of support politically motivated? At this point, I am led to believe that being Minister of Sport for the previous administration may have been coloured Smith's decisions regarding professional football. Certainly, since he has taken up office, professional football has suffered. Despite his public promises to support the Pro League, the subvention to clubs was cut and then discontinued completely. If I am the problem, if this is political, then I'll be happy to walk away from professional football rather than see the young players suffer further.”
According to Sancho, “Our situation is very simple. Our players are training without any guarantee of a salary. If we can't raise the funds for travel by next week, I will have to seriously consider withdrawing from the Championship, which be an embarrassing result for local football amongst our regional counterparts.”
Last year Central FC went on a goodwill tour of Tobago in partnership with SPoRTT. “We did some coaching schools promoting SPoRTT and in return, SPoRTT had agreed to pay the airfare to Tobago. Although the trip was a great PR success for it, they reneged on their promise of support and we are now in a legal battle with the travel agent over unpaid airfares. And, of course, we are still owed prize money by the Pro League which have not received promised funding from the Minister of Sport since 2016. I personally have had enough and would rather put my energies into youth and community sport, which is why I recently started my own Foundation.”
Meanwhile, Sancho is still hoping that corporate T&T will step up to help. “We have received promises from some companies to help, but we are still short of our budget for this competition. Time is running out, and we will have to make a 'go, no go' decision by next week.”