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Umbro-backed T&T Super League awaits TTFA green light; Look Loy warns football body

All systems are almost go for the proposed June 11 launch of the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL), which yesterday announced a major sponsorship with Umbro. They are awaiting the green light from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA). But nobody can say exactly when that will come.

Interim TTSL President Keith Look Loy said his organisation has done everything they need to ensure that the new league is ratified and officially sanctioned by the TTFA by the time the first ball is kicked.

Photo: (Left to right) Lt Ryan Ottley (TTSL interim VP), Keith Look Loy (TTSL interim President), Minister Darryl Smith, Camara David (TTSL Secretary), Kester Lendor (TTSL interim Assistant Secretary) and Quincy Jones (TTSL interim Board member). (Courtesy TTSL)
Photo: (Left to right) Lt Ryan Ottley (TTSL interim VP), Keith Look Loy (TTSL interim President), Minister Darryl Smith, Camara David (TTSL Secretary), Kester Lendor (TTSL interim Assistant Secretary) and Quincy Jones (TTSL interim Board member).
(Courtesy TTSL)

“We have satisfied all their requirements but still the matter is in abeyance,” Look Loy told Wired868. “We have given them everything that they have required (…) a constitution, company by-laws and all the documentation associated with the formation and registration of our company which has [at the moment] 22 shareholders and is a legitimate company.”

On January 8, Look Loy sent a formal request for membership to the TTFA—receipt of which was acknowledged on February 23. The local football governing body, however, has yet to process the application.

No official word, however, is forthcoming from TTFA president David John-Williams, whom Wired868 tried, without success, to reach for comment.

“We kick off on the 11th of June so there is still a little time, Look Loy explained. “But we are going ahead with our process.”

This morning, the interim president sent another e-mail, emphasising that the TTFA Board is not constitutionally in a position to decide on their application.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (centre), media officer Shaun Fuentes (left) and new Soca Warriors coach Dennis Lawrence at the TTFA headquarters on 30 January 2017. (Copyright Allan V Crane/TTFA)
Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (centre), media officer Shaun Fuentes (left) and new Soca Warriors coach Dennis Lawrence at the TTFA headquarters on 30 January 2017.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/TTFA)

“I repeat TTSL’s oft-stated position that our membership application MUST, by constitutional requirement, be submitted to TTFA’s General Meeting for approval,” today’s email said. “This right does not belong to the TTFA Board.”

The e-mail ended with a final call to have the application submitted to the TTFA’s Extraordinary General Meeting.

The Super League has already received support from Sports Minister Darryl Smith and Look Loy insisted that the necessary steps will be taken to have the TTSL officially recognised.

“According to the constitution, we have the right to call an extraordinary general meeting,” he told Wired868. “I know that there are member bodies [in the TTFA] that will support us but we want to avoid that. (…) It benefits no one. We are trying to be diplomatic and statesmanlike about it.”

It requires over 50% of the total votes for a general meeting to be called by a club and the TTSL already accounts for eight.

“We intend to be recognised,” he said. “We are not going to let a handful of people or even less block our progressive move to give our clubs a proper league in which to play.”

Photo: Club Sando Moruga striker Nigel John (left) sprints away from FC Santa Rosa defender Alfie James during 2015/16 CNG National Super League (NSL) Premiership Division action at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Club Sando Moruga striker Nigel John (left) sprints away from FC Santa Rosa defender Alfie James during 2015/16 CNG National Super League (NSL) Premiership Division action at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

According to Look Loy, the local football governing body has more to lose from not ratifying the TTSL than the other way around.

“I believe far beyond any implications for the league, there [instead] would be implications for the administration of the TTFA,” he suggested.

Yesterday, at the launch of the new partnership, he got a ringing endorsement from Omar Hadeed, CEO of Sports and Games Limited, who represented the new sponsors and said he “believes in Mr Keith Look Loy.”

“Our sponsorship with the newly formed Super League is testament to the success of Mr Keith Look Loy because we are investing in him,” Hadeed said. “If he could run the Super League half as well as his own team, it will be a huge success…”

The TT$100,000-plus deal with sports brand Umbro, scheduled to run from March 2017 to December 2019, will supply all 24 teams with equipment to help kick the league off in mid-year.

Photo: Guaya captain and playmaker Ryan Stewart (right) is watched closely by Matura ReUnited midfield ace Zavion Navarro during 2015/16 CNG NSL Premiership Division action in Matura. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/WIred868)
Photo: Guaya captain and playmaker Ryan Stewart (right) is watched closely by Matura ReUnited midfield ace Zavion Navarro during 2015/16 CNG NSL Premiership Division action in Matura.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Saying that  by bringing commercial benefits to the clubs is “the only way our league could grow and our football could grow,” Look Loy gave the assurance that the TTSL will “operate a league that is not going to be bleeding red ink from the start.”

“Our budget is balanced and it is based on our membership fees [and] we’re not going to be spending money beyond what our membership fees allow.”

Look Loy also indicated that their founding agreement provides for 50% of the overall profits to be shared equally among the 24 shareholders.

“A partnership with a global brand is in our view a recognition of our credibility and a recognition of our potential for growth.” he declared. “The founding purpose and the guiding principle of the Trinidad and Tobago Super League is to make our football commercially viable.”

Asked about his dual role as coach of current TTSL champions Sports and Games FC Santa Rosa and his new position as interim president of the TTSL, Look Loy saw no conflict of interest.

Photo: FC Santa Rosa coach Keith Look Loy (centre) talks to his players at halftime while then captain Jovan Rochford (right) has a drink of water during 2015/16 CNG National Super League (NSL) Premiership Division action against Club Sando Moruga at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: FC Santa Rosa coach Keith Look Loy (centre) talks to his players at halftime while then captain Jovan Rochford (right) has a drink of water during 2015/16 CNG National Super League (NSL) Premiership Division action against Club Sando Moruga at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Explaining that “the internal institutions of the league are populated by people who do not belong to clubs,” he added that: “All of the board members of the Trinidad and Tobago Super League [as well as the TT Pro League] are [also] representatives of clubs.”

His job as interim president, he said, “is merely to guide [the] process [by which non-club officials] essentially implement policy that is adopted by the general membership.”

It is the general membership which makes the final decisions which are to be implemented by various committees.

Look Loy also spoke on the issue of bringing football back to the community, so that funds can be generated from gate receipts.

“We have clubs that play in [Regional Corporation-owned] open fields, we have clubs that play in private grounds that are closed and some that play in official stadia,” said Look Loy. “This is something we have to work on… [Sports Minister] Darryl Smith has said that they [his administration] will be working on different grounds to create that capacity for clubs to become financially independent.

“The key thing is to make the step and the Trinidad and Tobago Super League has made that step.”

They now await word from the TTFA.

Photo: Guaya's dreadlocked supporter waits to sound his bell to signal another attack by the "Green Army" during National Super League action against Defence Force in January 2016. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Guaya’s dreadlocked supporter waits to sound his bell to signal another attack by the “Green Army” during National Super League action against Defence Force in January 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

About Sean Taylor

Sean Taylor is a freelance writer with seven years' experience in the field, who has written for local publications including the Campus Chronicle, UWI Today, USPORTT, Metro and the Trinidad Express. He also studied Communication Studies and Portuguese at the University of the West Indies.

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39 comments

  1. Lasana Liburd we live in hope and faith but because our educated leaders /pioneer driven…strive to change the past situations,they fail repeatedly…always because of their prior affiliation to their club and players of which they represent and believe in and it would always be viewed that way as a conflict of interest

  2. I think this is a good mature conversation to have actually.

  3. Gentlemen, as far as I know, Keith Look Loy has never been called out for corrupt practices. And that is saying plenty considering that he worked in the Jack Warner era.
    At the same time, we have to appreciate that fans have been burned repeatedly by administrators. So I don’t think we should be too thin skinned when people are wary. I’d say T&T citizens should be wary of ALL leaders. That’s just a sad reality.
    If I go up for some sort of post tomorrow, I’d have to accept that some people will say I was angling for it over the last 20 years. Lol. Up to me to prove that my motives are above reproach.
    We need to move past personalties and get to a stage where we know that, even if Trump was in charge, we have the mechanisms in place to hold him/her accountable.
    So I understand what Carlos Lee is saying. Whether Keith is a great guy or a scamp, we need to be confident that he will be held accountable and won’t have a free hand.

  4. Are you saying that all decisions made by the Interim Board are Interim and will be revisited once elections are held and the elected board is in place?

  5. Gentleman, let us not try to make this out to be more than it really is. Firstly, the general membership has the last say. Secondly, the TTSL is still in the ‘setting-up’ stages and deals like this one in particular are important to the development and success of the organization. Thirdly, the TTSL haven’t had its elections yet.
    The INTERIM board is simply representing the interests of the general membership

  6. Norris – Sports & Games is the primary sponsor of the club that is run by the Interim President. S & G is now a key sponsor of the league that is led by the Interim President. As Interim President of the league he now has to represent the interest of not just his club, but all clubs under the TTSL. If S & G as a key, if not primary, sponsor of the TTSL start making demands not in the best interest of the league, will the Interim President make decisions in the best interest of the league or in the best interest of his club? I’m not saying that the Interim President need to stand down as a result of these and other potential conflicts of interest, I’m saying that the TTSL board need to be mindful of it and put measures in place to mitigate things. The board should also ensure there is total transparency with respect to the sponsorship / contractual agreements between S & G and the club that is run by the Interim President.

    • I hear you and understand what you saying, but perhaps you were not fortunate to read the published constitution of the TTSL. Even the Board does not have the final say on any matter, it is the Clubs that make the final decision. So if twenty one Clubs are prepared to sit back and allow one Club/person dominate the proceedings, then they are rolling back the hands of time. Good point made anyway.

    • Thanks Norris Ferguson. Pleasant morning folks.
      Total participation by all member clubs at the various meetings thus far have addressed most, if not all of the concerns that you proffered Carlos Lee. Thanks for the heads up though.

    • That’s great to hear Tim. Norris – your penultimate sentence is quite interesting. You are either naive or not familiar with the history of football administration or to be more general sports administration in tnt.

    • Carlos interesting that you made that point, because clearly you really do not know who I am. Thanks for your concern though.

    • Hi Norris – a bit strange that you would make such a naive statement knowing what you know about football / sports administration in tnt.

    • Carlos I know that we know each other very well, so I accept your comment.

    • As a society it’ll do us good to be proactive rather than reactive. We need to learn from our past. Past experience has told us time and time again that our leaders will fail us. They will look after their selfish interest rather than the good of the whole. So let’s put measures in place to ensure the interest of the whole is protected and secured. That’s all I’m saying?

    • Gentleman, let us not try to make this out to be more than it really is. Firstly, the general membership has the last say. Secondly, the TTSL is still in the ‘setting-up’ stages and deals like this one in particular are important to the development and success of the organization. Thirdly, the TTSL haven’t had its elections yet.
      The INTERIM board is simply representing the interests of the general membership

    • And fourthly Jameson, we are the ones working towards improving the football with the TTSL model. Everyone else is on the ‘outside’ just speculating about the state of our football, but what are they doing?

  7. Simple processes always unecessarily turn out challenging in this country

  8. Carlos/Bruce I was not really in touch all the time and therefore might have missed something. Where is the conflict of interest?

  9. Very happy to see that people are beginning to recognize that in small communities, we need to be very conscious of possible conflicts of interest. They are inevitable, and MUST be addressed if integrity in what we do is to be maintained.

    • Earl Best

      Bruce, do you want to say some more on this point? I take it that you are approving of KLL’s stance and saying that there is a potential conflict of interest but we have to trust his integrity? Am I right in thinking that the “small communities” to which you refer here means T&T and other countries that are the same size more or less? Or does that mean football which directly affects a comparatively small proportion of the population and therefore must allow for multiple roles?

      It’s a fascinating perspective on an old issue and I really wish you would elaborate…

  10. Interesting times ❤️⚽️

  11. Football is such a reflection of our ‘individualism’ in Trinidad and the battle for turf from all ends about who is right & who is wrong…10 Pro teams, 24 Super league teams…long list of zonal teams and sadly the players, coaches and supporters get denied a quality product when money really isn’t the main issue 🙁

  12. I see some conflicts of interest brewing between the interim president, his club, and Sports and Games. The TTSL board should take a closer look at this and put measures in place to mitigate potential and future conflicts.