Central FC may not be among the clubs taking part in this year's revised T&T Pro League.
Its managing director and owner Brent Sancho is crying victimisation after being one of two clubs to be blanked government's promised subventions yesterday during a cheque presentation at the office of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs.
Each club received $450,000, from which part will be invested towards the running of the Pro League. Kevin Harrison, the club's Operations Director, who turned up to collect the cheque was told that there was no cheque for his team, as there were some discrepancies with their salaries in the past.
Upon receiving this news on Thursday, Sancho, a former Minister of Sports under the People's Partnership (PP) Government, immediately stepped down as the club's managing director believes his team has been unfairly victimised due to his political affiliation. He vowed to have very little or no involvement in the operations of the club, saying, "If that is what would help the club, then so be it."
He told Guardian Media Sports that a report from SPoRTT last week confirmed that all clubs were compliant and in a position to receive monies yesterday. "We were asked to submit documentation more than four or five times the amount as any other team. We owe monies, yes, but we have had a meeting with the players and have since been paying them bit-by-bit.
We intended to pay off the outstanding debt to the players with the government subvention and move forward."
Sancho said their debt escalated following their successes in the 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17 where tons of monies were spent on the domestic competitions, and to compete in the CFU and CONCACAF clubs tournaments. The club is also owed well over a million dollars in earnings from the pro league, which Sancho said, was used by the league to assist other clubs financially.
"As far as I know, we will not be taking part in the Pro League unless the person who takes over from me, can generate sufficient income to do so. And if they can, then I believe the club will be better served, as it will not be the subject of direct attacks by the government, and in particular, this minister," Sancho explained.
According to the former national defender, "I am sure Central FC is not the only club experiencing these troubles."
With government's subvention now in the hands of the clubs, the 2019 season will go on as planned, said Selby Browne, chairman of the T&T Football Association committee formed to get the new pro league off and running.
Browne, also president of the Veteran Football Foundation of T&T (VFFTT), said two clubs did not receive monies yesterday, with Point Fortin Civic, being the other. However, he made it clear both will have to sort their issues out first before they can play.
"The agreement has been signed by the Pro League. One of the conditions was that the T&TFC will provide the necessary funding to pay the salaries of all clubs, to restore the confidence, to have transparency and accountability. Two clubs did not receive their cheques today, however, most of the clubs have agreed to proceed and we will have to go back to the T&TFA Board to get a sign-off, to have funds released next week."
He noted, "We know that the Defence Force and the Police FC did not receive cheques from government, but there are two other clubs, one that hasn't paid salaries and that must be addressed first before they receive any funding. And in the other case, it's a minor matter that needs to be addressed."
He assured these issues will not affect the October 4 start of the league.