T&T’s eleven Pro league clubs are optimistic about the future of professional football in Trinidad and Tobago following their virtual meeting with Robert Hadad, the chairman of the T&T Football Association (TTFA) Normalization Committee on December 17.
Leading the discussions for the clubs was chairman Brent Sancho, who said that, “Mr Hadad put his vision on the table and the Club Owners gave their views and there was a lot of common ground covered on the pathway forward. It was a progressive discourse with opinions exchanged in a very open way and everyone has agreed that the only way forward must be collective and united.”
Hadad has also expressed satisfaction with the attitude of the club owners and representatives and the outcome of the meeting generally.
He said, “Basically, the NC is focussed on all levels of football, youth, grassroots, women and amateur but we all recognise the importance of professional football.
” We want a national league that brings together the Pro League and the Super League in two divisions managed by the TTFA. We want promotion and relegation to keep each division competitive so that clubs can see a pathway from zonal right up to professional levels. We are aware it is not a new concept but our ideas for funding would be appealing to clubs and players. The Pro League has been very positive, the Super League meeting was cordial and we have a budgetary process to analyse now.”
Hadad feels the answers to getting football back on track are within the grasp of the stakeholders and while the NC will take the lead, it is important for “a spirit of collectivity”.
He explained that” We have a plan to generate funding from Corporate Trinidad and Tobago, Government and FIFA. We want to reactivate facilities within the communities so that clubs become true representatives of their communities and this is a dimension that needs legislation because having their own home ground within the community is a major step to self-sufficiency among the clubs.”
On the topic of funding, he told the club representatives that, “We want to do funding from a centralised governance structure so that Government, FIFA and Corporate sponsors are satisfied that they get value for investment and players and staff benefit.”
His and the NC plan was also echoed by Sancho, whose main concern is to stabilise the league behind the huge investments which have been made by clubs and various stakeholders for over a decade in local and regional football.
He stated that “Funding as outlined by Mr. Hadad along with clubs having access to proper facilities within the communities is a formula for success. Some clubs will always be richer than others but if every club’s basic budget is assured, then it brings some level of equity on the playing field.”
With regards to the Ascension League for 2021, both Sancho and Hadad felt the football calendar has room for everyone.
Hadad pointed out that, “We have asked the Ascension League to bring forward their plan and on a personal level, I have no problem in their league being a pre-season tournament as a forerunner to a massive National league in 2021. We will be guided by their proposal and the inputs by the clubs.”
Sancho said, “Its all about structuring the calendar in the right way so that Trinidad and Tobago football can be the winner. This time around.”
So far, government restrictions due to the coronavirus (Covid- 19) pandemic, have halted competitions in team sports with only the National men’s senior team which has FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in March next year, granted an exemption to train as a team.