Connection lodge “Ratty” protest against Stars; TTFA offers prize money

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) Disciplinary Committee is expected to meet on April 7 to rule on a TTFA FA Trophy protest lodged by 2015 runners-up, DIRECTV W Connection.

Connection lost on penalty kicks to North East Stars in the March 29 final at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. However, Connection chairman David John Williams was livid that Gorean “Ratty” Highley, who was a Malabar FC player in the Super League up until February 25, was allowed to play for Stars.

Photo: North East Stars striker Gorean "Ratty" Highley (left) takes on W Connection defender Christian Ocoro Viveros in the TTFA FA Trophy final. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars striker Gorean “Ratty” Highley (left) takes on W Connection defender Christian Ocoro Viveros in the TTFA FA Trophy final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Williams declared before the opening whistle that Connection were “playing under protest” and he officially lodged his objection to the TTFA yesterday.

“The rule clearly says that Gorean Highley was registered outside of the transfer window as a senior player only to play reserve team football,” said Williams, after the final. “When I saw the name on the team list, I went to the Director of Competitions who is Neville Ferguson. I spoke to Sharon (O’Brien) about it and the Match Commissioner and they still allowed the game to play.

“I think that is bringing the game into disrepute. I will take it all the way…”

Stars general manager Maurice Eligon insisted the Sangre Grande-based club followed the rules and that they clarified Highley’s eligibility before the final. He acknowledged that Highley cannot play in the Pro League but suggested Stars took advantage of a loophole to use the former Connection player in the FA competition.

“I respect John (Williams) a lot but we checked the rules before,” Eligon told Wired868. “There is a loophole… What John was quoting was a rule from the TT Pro League while the FA rules were a little different.”

Photo: W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (left) looks on while winger Aikim Andrews (right) runs with the ball during the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (left) looks on while winger Aikim Andrews (right) runs with the ball during the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The Connection protest did quote a TTFA rule as well, though.

“It should be noted that under the competition rule #6 effectively means that a player participating in the FA Trophy 2015 should be registered prior to Monday 26 January 2015,” stated Williams. “As noted, Gorean Highley was registered two days before the FA Trophy semi final. This effectively is bringing the game into disrepute and I trust that a proper investigation will be launched in this matter by the disciplinary committee of the TTFA and the necessary actions taken.”

The TTFA Disciplinary Committee is chaired by Newton George.

But the biggest post-final surprise is that the TTFA has promised to pay prize money to not just the 2015 FA winner and runners-up but also vowed to pay the 2014 FA competitors and the the top four 2014/15 Super League teams.

TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips, who is in El Salvador at present, said the football body will make the handouts next week.

TTFA Tournament and Competition chairman Neville Ferguson told Wired868 that he was “working on processing the payments as we speak.” He confirmed that the local football body had not found a sponsor but would pay the teams from its own coffers.

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (far left) presents a replica cheque to DIRECTV W Connection for winning the 2013/14 FA Trophy title. It took Connection months to receive their cash prize while the 2013/14 FA Trophy runners are yet to be paid. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (far left) presents a replica cheque to DIRECTV W Connection for winning the 2013/14 FA Trophy title.
It took Connection months to receive their cash prize while the 2013/14 FA Trophy runners are yet to be paid.
(Courtesy Wired868)

TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee, who is also the Port of Spain mayor and PNM treasurer, intends to stand for re-election this year after running unopposed in the football body’s election in November 2012. According to the constitution, Tim Kee should have faced the polls in November 2014 but, with FIFA’s help, the TTFA was allowed to postpone the elections until June 2015.

Bizarrely, the TTFA did not mention prize money for the 2015 FA tournament until after the competition.

Williams said he was pleasantly surprised by the news although this silver lining came with a cloud. Connection, who were unaware of the possibility of prize money, had used mostly reserve team players for the competition.

“The first time I heard about (FA Trophy prize money) was this morning,” said Williams. “I was not aware there was any prize money. I am pleasantly surprised.

“The disappointment is why they didn’t say that before.”

Eligon had not even heard the good news yet.

Photo: North East Stars goalkeeper and captain Cleon John (centre) takes the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy from TTFA vice-president Bryan Layne. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars goalkeeper and captain Cleon John (centre) takes the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy from TTFA vice-president Bryan Layne.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“Nobody (from the TTFA) called us,” said Eligon. “I plan to call (TTFA official) Sharon (O’Brien) to find out.”

At present, it is uncertain whether Connection’s protest will delay the payment of prize money to the 2015 FA finalists.


Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final match report.

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  1. Still no decision Nigel. But the meeting was held.

  2. I asked a few days ago and there was no verdict although they held a meeting. Will ask again.

  3. Lasana, what was the outcome of this protest?

  4. Earl Jean and Vladimir Henderson-Suite some folks in TTFA doesn’t even understand what it means by being Professional, eh, or it is a culture thing because of what they did by allowing the game to proceed and not tell Angus Eve and the management of North East stars that if they allowed them to play with an illegal player eh, the game will be awarded to W- Connection, if they had won. When my player and friend Mickey Trotman (R.I.P.} first missed his flight to return to our sweet country to join our national team that was in camp preparing for a game he finally made it back to our sweet country and then while at Camp was allowed to leave to go and visit his family in Arima only to lost his life in an accident along with his brother and a beautiful young lady who was also pregnant at the time eh, another time again one of our top notch Coaches was given the permission by the then Manager (R.I.P.), to go an visit his family while they were in camp and before he can reach to his destination he got involved in an accident eh, his vehicle ran straight into the back of a parked trailer that was parked on the highway that had no caution lights, thank the Lord that he and his friend did n’t loose their lives but got his throat buss by TTFA because the Manager said that he didn’t give him any permission to leave the Camp, I guess the Manager wanted to cover himself before he got his throat buss, then what about the Foreign Base Coach who also drunk like a fish eh, bounce down a fella on the Beetham Highway and killed him eh, and before he was prosecuted eh, they shipped him out of our sweet country very quickly, and one of our talent goalscorers at the age of 17yrs old was about leave our sweet country to go an join Manchester United eh, and the night before he departed he and his friends went out to party and on their way home eh, they got involved in an accident and another good upcoming young player lost his life and the player who was suppose to leave also got some serious injuries that ended his trip and professional career with Manchester United, and last but not least what about some of the players that was allowed to break camp in 1989 when they were down in South the night before the game against the USA on 19th November 1989 eh, when they was rushing back to meet the Maxi taxis to take them to the game in the morning the vehicle went over a precipice eh, thank the lord again no player lost their lives or seriously got injured. So you all see the problems in our sweet country with respect to the professionalism and the discipline eh. Them really good yes.

  5. Mango it happened right here in trinidad to in the international masters tournament. …was so disgusted myself….imagine people you would respect pushing younger players to do that….couldn’t believe for myself…

  6. It would be good to find out what was said by sharon who was the official fa administrator on the day and whether she was aware of the rules…but it wasnt iam sure from the executive members of the Federation …
    At the end of the day if you know something is wrong you have to be careful ….if you know u take the risk and u are confident in what u are doing then the responsibility is yours….lets wait to see the outcome….we lost the game on the night that we know and accept. ..we just need to know was it a fair game in the players used on the night …and we rest our case!

  7. Well they have all right to feel aggrieved then

  8. Williams said he quoted from the rule book there. It is sure to get messy with that one.

  9. Was the deadline for player registration in the competition really the 26th of January?

  10. We have a similar problem with respect to using illegal players in an Over 40 league here in Brooklyn in the summer time,the teams are also allowed to use 3 players that is between the ages of 35-40 yrs old but some teams even cheats and use players that are under 35 yrs old and the official of the league turns a blind eye on these teams during the season but when it is playoff time he checks everyone identification eh. does that make any sence eh, let these younger players wait until they reach the right age to play the over 40 ball nah, but this just goes to show you the integrity and character of some of the Managers and Coaches of the team who allows this to happen. Them really good yes.

  11. True indeed LasanaLiburd. Earl I agree with you about professionalism! This is an extension of society where rules somehow seem made to be broken or bent to suit certain persons!

  12. I can’t argue with you there Vla. Stars definitely tried to strengthen their team and introduce a player who hadn’t played for them yet this season.
    My point is that since the tournament organiser told them they could, then it technically isn’t cheating.
    As for the moral viewpoint? I can’t argue with what you said. They used a loophole to strengthen their team for this competition.
    David John-williams did point to a registration clause in the TTFA’s own tournament rules though. So it might be that the TTFA ignored its own rules to let him play. Maybe. The disciplinary committee will decide.

  13. Lasana you know I am normally quiet and dont post much though I love to read posts. However, on this occassion I must say that I disagree>>> and here is why…If something is against the spirit of the game as Charles said ITS WRONG!!!!! In the business world there are “smart” people who fleece people out of their money and get away with it because its not illegal, but its morally wrong.!!!! Be fair win honest play straight up and beat a team with the players that you should use… Why look for a loophole? Is the FA Cup giving you US$ millions? NO! Is it qualifying you for a regional competition? I dont know but is that the way you want to win?.

  14. Well it seems that the rules for the TTFA FA Cup is different from the rules of the Professional league ent. Well I now understand. Them really good yes.

  15. Again, I have to point out that North East Stars said they asked the TTFA officials and were told they could use Highley.
    Even Connection said TTFA officials allowed it. So, in my opinion, Stars didn’t cheat even if Connection wins the appeal.

  16. This has been going on long before in our sports where Managers and Coaches cheats to win games and tournaments and as I said before shame on Angus Eve and his management at North East stars. Them really good yes.

  17. Ok Earl Jean, understood. Hope you get your redress.

  18. We dont challenge decisions. ..when we think its wrong and people continue to just do what they think…when will it ever change and get better. lose or draw…do it the right way not at or by any means necessary. …what do we want in our sport? Please lets get our football in the right direction and if we lose the case then. .we will know and everyone will know whats the right way….we have to learn the hard way sometimes. …its all a learning process for all parties and even administratiors will know the do’s and don’t s

  19. Ok Mr David John Williams. I Get your point. No offense. But how according to your explanation, did the TTFA Allow this to happen ? Since they gave the go ahead for him to play ?

  20. Lets just be seriuos about the sport and if you have a case to answer and you lose then so be it but always try to do whats right…

  21. I would have trusted the you would read Wired first article before making a comment like that. It important to note that the TTFA were warned about
    this situation since the 16th of March. The Final took place on the 29th.
    You would have seen in Wired article that even before the game we said win
    loose or draw we will have protested and bring the situation to the fore.
    It is about protecting the integrity of the game. I also happy to informed
    you that W Connection Wanderers challenged the TTCB on a matter three years
    ago on a decision which did not even affect Wanderers in terms of it final standings and won the matter. This was done even after being asked by
    several persons to not peruse the matter since the final out come was not impacting us directly

  22. We dont protest just to protest. …we do things because we think its the right way. ..and professional way…so I know people may think connection feels that they are more than other clubs….its not what we think…..we just try as a club to things the professional way because thats what we want…..professionalism is an attitude and we try to live to that. …we prepare for the competition not only here but outside in the caribbean and the world ….because you never know who you may meet at international competitions….’professional’ is the only way both football and administrative wise….if we dont want to be that then lets go back amateur. …dont do half and half…since w.connection fc brought me back to the caribbean…I have helped the club and players to understand that the only way to be….The head coach and owner have always had that professional attitude and that attracted me here….how do we grow ?how do we attract the top sponsors if we have an amateur mentality towards the sport. …we have our work cut out for us because if we cant change the mindset of the amateur then we are all doomed. …the public must understand we protest If aomeone is wrong not by us alone but to help change how things are done …if not we as a people and a Caribbean people will always talk the talk and never walk the talk….

  23. Mr. Live Wire states that the club is protesting the match day decision. I honestly believe that the referee made an error in her judgement but that’s all part of the game. It happens in some of the biggest leagues outside. Unless video technology is introduced in aid in having the final say then Connection just have to get over the lost. I’d protest for a more effective referring mechanism. The cricketers use a third umpire. Something is needed to that effect.

  24. Earl Jean we are not questioning the Clubs Philosophy and way of doing things. Thanks for your Enlightenment though. I respect that W Connection is the most professional Club in T&T.

  25. I agree with your comment AlanaAllan . They thought they would have been victorious against Stars. Classic case of over confidence.

  26. Let me first put one thing straight with our club. …over the years w.connection fc has been very consistent with our club philosophy. …in that making every professional player understand their role at the club and that everyone is an important part of the squad ….we try to give everyone a fair share at playing time and because of our schedule in playing almost to the last game of every season for the last 10 years or more its a policy of our head coach Stuart Charles fevrier to play those who were not regularly on the normal squad….remember we have a very competitive team so in fairness. …he played consistently the same players for the last two or more seasons in the FA Cup…the fa is a very competitive and exciting tournament with a rich history so we do take it very serious…its the first that we won as a club, last season we defeated central with our same players and philosophy and this year we did the same. We never change to put the regular players….and we won again with central fc playing their full squad…its the belief we have in our players. ..we dont pick based on who we play….lets understand that….at the club we have our way of doing things and we try to be professional as possible and maybe at times we will fail. We need to educate people on our way. ..

  27. Lol now seeing Brent Bennett comment. I was wondering if it is a Mickey Mouse league after reading this article. …lol

  28. Oh Peter Harris good question meh boi! I think NOT!

  29. I wonder if John Williams would have protested if W Connection had won the match ?

  30. W Connection queried Gorean Highley before the game and was told by TTFA officials that he could play. So Connection was obliged to play and face sanctions.
    The Connection protest now is essentially an appeal against the TTFA’s match day decision.

  31. I was wondering if they would have been fined or suspended but someone told me no. It would be nice if Mr. Live Wire Lasana Liburd can shed some light on this.

  32. I think by not playing the game they could have subjected themselves to a fine or possible suspension.

  33. Hmmmm interesting turn of events. My question is, why didn’t Connection protest in the form of not playing until the FA rectified the situation with Ratty? In the previous match report pls correct me if I’m wrong, Mr. Williams knew the guy played in the game against Jabloteh. Yes, he raised his concerns then but why didn’t he take it to a higher level then. I honestly believe rules are meant to be adhered to but Connection played because they thought they could have beat NES. If Connection wins their case with the FA then I’m looking forward to Jabloteh bring a case too. Honestly I don’t really see them winning it nah! This can cause a whole chain reaction. #JusMyView

  34. At least ah didn’t call it the “Disney” league lol

  35. Oh losh Brent. Doh embarrass us so! 🙂

  36. Look trouble now! This sounding like Eddie Hart league rather than a pro league lol

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