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.
“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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.