The Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) got a much-needed boost in the run-up to the start of its 2017/18 season, scheduled for Sunday 11 June. Caribbean Football Trust Ltd (CFTL) has agreed to fund two of the League’s competitions to the tune of a total of TT$550,000.
The agreement between the TTSL and the Barbados-based CFTL will see TT$200,000 going towards the League Cup competition—won last year by Tobago’s Bethel FC—and a further TT$350,000 going towards a brand new “Winner takes all” Power Eight competition.
Former national footballer Chris Anderson, who is chairman of the CFTL, signed on behalf of his company while TTSL’s interim President Keith Look Loy did the honours for the League at a media conference at the old Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) headquarters at the Hasely Crawford Stadium today.
Anderson told the media that Look Loy’s passion and commitment are what drove him to take concrete action and gave the assurance that his company stands ready to assist in the improvement of the football culture in the two-island republic.
“As a former Trinidad and Tobago youth, senior and international player,” Anderson told the media. “my passion has always been for Trinidad and Tobago football. For the past 15-20 years I’ve seen our football decline in a way where it is totally dilapidated if you ask me.”
“When I spoke to my board of directors, they said ‘It’s your choice.’ They said, ‘It’s your country and your passion,’ and I got the full support from all my board members to do this. This is the beginning. I anticipate that we will venture into greater things as we go along…”
Anderson predicted that a real vigour and intensity will be brought back to local football with the “Winner takes all” competition. The finer details of the tournament still have to be sorted out by his technical team, he said, but the idea that he has in his head is for a knockout tournament for the top eight league teams come the end of the 2017/18 season.
Coaches, players and fans alike are expected to be revved up for the Power Eight competition as the team which finishes on top will receive a handsome TT$200,000. The remaining TT$150,000 which is being pumped into the tournament will go towards transport, referees and other stipends.
Look Loy shares Anderson’s conviction that the competition will serve as a great incentive for the TTSL’s top tier clubs.
“There is no doubt that the ‘Winner takes all’ Power Eight tournament will generate great intensity,” he said to the media. “And intensity is what is going to market that tournament.”
But Look Loy lamented that, while the Power Eight tournament will see one exuberant group of players walking away a solid cash prize, not all teams which participate in the League Cup will receive some sort of monetary rewards for their efforts.
Happy at being able to welcome the CFTL sponsorship, the founder of last season’s Super League champion club, FC Santa Rosa, stressed that there are currently no monetary incentives set aside for league play since the TTSL is still in search of a title sponsor. He noted that there was still time for local investors to come on board and he reiterated his request for a meeting with Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Darryl Smith on funding for inter-island transportation.
“I am not a believer that the State must finance sport,” Look Loy told the assembled media. “I am not a believer in the State financing football clubs. But I do believe that the State has a role in creating an environment in which sport can flourish.”
“To be specific,” he continued, “one month ago, I wrote a letter to the Minister of Sport seeking a discussion for some kind of State support—which has always existed in the life of the Super League—for inter-island travel for our members.”
He explained that the League’s roster includes three Tobago-based teams, which means that half of the League’s budget, almost $500,000, will have to be spent to finance the movement of 20 clubs between the two islands,
“The State has normally paid,” he revealed. “But we have not been able to secure a discussion with the State, therefore, we are paying for it ourselves.”
Correspondence from the Sport Ministry has not exactly been forthcoming but Look Loy is hopeful that, with the league season starting on Sunday, he will be able to have discussions with officials of the TTFA and the Sports Ministry sooner rather than later.
He also expressed his gratitude to the TTFA for the US$25,000 (TT$168,000) it has announced it will grant to the TTSL. However, Look Loy noted, his organization has not so far received any official notification concerning the allocation.
“First of all, let me say that I am very happy that we have received that money as well,” Look Loy told Wired868. “We are operating on a very tight budget, which is a budget based solely on our registration fees. And we are cutting our suit to fit the cloth that we have.”
He added, however, that he is quite curious about the criteria the TTFA used to determine the quantum of the allocation as the TT Pro League is set to receive four times the amount pledged to the TTSL.
“This is not money that is pulled out of a hat by magic. This is FIFA money that is available to national associations across the globe to help develop the administration of their football.”
“What criteria were used to decide how much each league will get? Why do I ask this? The TT Pro League has ten members; we have 20—including three in Tobago. The TT Pro League has no teams in Tobago. And we have a $460,000 budget to finance inter-island travel for our 20 clubs.”
Stressing that the TTSL is “happy to receive the money,” Look Loy insisted that, logically, “even if the TT Pro League is getting US$100,000 with less members and no inter-island travel budget, we should certainly get more than US$25,000.”