Despite the pledge of a US$25,000 grant from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and yesterday’s signing of a new agreement to have two of its competitions sponsored, the newly launched Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) has no title sponsor and will have to operate on a very tight budget.
But money may not be the TTSL’s only problem.
Matura Re-United General Manager Maurice Eligon is contemplating initiating legal action against the TTSL for what the club sees as victimization. As it stands, the exciting East Coast team is unlikely to be suiting up for the upcoming season because they failed to meet the deadline for paying the TTSL’s competition fees.
The TTSL finally got the go-ahead for its 2017 season from the TTFA on 3 May. According to Eligon, Matura failed to pay the TT$45,000 by the TTSL’s 28 April deadline because the club was not willing to commit to a league which had up to that point not yet been ratified by the governing body.
Eligon confessed to being baffled to discover that a motion had been brought against Matura and Palo Seco United to have the two clubs demoted from League One to League Two because of their failure to pay competition fees. The real sore point, Eligon said, is that Tobago club 1976 FC Phoenix also had not paid their competition fees in full by the 28 April date but were still allowed into the TTSL’s League One.
According to the minutes of a TTSL General Meeting on 29 April, “1976 Phoenix reported that they were awaiting monies, which were guaranteed to them by the Tobago House of Assembly and which have already been paid to the other Tobago teams in the League.”
“Matura Re-United FC reported,” the minutes continue, “that they were still waiting on correspondences from the MP of the Matura area.”
According to Eligon, there is nothing in the situations described in the minutes to warrant different strokes for different folks. He insists that all the teams involved should have received the same treatment since their circumstances were similar.
Look Loy, however, suggested that Matura were given several extensions to allow them to pay the outstanding competition fees but the club never complied.
“We had deadlines for clubs to pay their annual membership fee and then their competition fees so they could play football,” Look Loy told Wired868. “The deadline was extended four times for Matura (but) they didn’t pay their fees. […] We told them we would give them another deadline in order to play in League Two and they still haven’t paid a cent.”
“We had to pay Caribbean Airlines almost $50,000 in May,” Look Loy explained, “to secure tickets for June. If we had not done that there was the real threat that we would not have been able to fulfill our fixtures in June if tickets had not been bought.”
Asked whether it was true that 1976 FC Phoenix had also failed to meet the 28 April deadline, Look Loy replied in the negative.
“That’s not true […] Phoenix made a down-payment of $25,000 on their fees. And they met the deadline of the remaining $20,000 and we have the evidence to back that up,” he told Wired868.
“For the first time in the 16 years of Super League history, everybody has paid their fees before we kick a ball,” Look Loy boasted. “You know why? Because they see Matura get kick out. And everybody knows if they want to play, they have to pay. As cold and hard as it might be, we have business to run and we must run on business principles.”
It seems that Eligon and Matura ent business, they jamming still. Far from conceding defeat on the issue of the club’s participation in the 2017 season, the Matura General Manager has written to TTFA General Secretary Justin Latapy-George concerning what he considers to be his team’s unwarranted demotion.
Although provisions have been made for the East Coast team to play in the TTSL’s League Two, the club is of the firm belief that they have earned their right to play in the TTSL’s top flight. And that is what they intend to do, even if it means missing the current season.
But up to yesterday, Eligon and the other club officials were still optimistically waiting for a response from the TTFA.