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Morv’t Caledonia, Stars secure new sponsors; Scottie, Carlos rejoin rejigged Pro League

The North East Stars and Morvant Caledonia United football clubs have announced new commercial sponsors, as the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League prepares for a change-filled 2016/17 season.

The Stars, who finished fifth in the 10-table standings last season, will be formally referred to as the Ma Pau Stars for the 2016/17 season after agreeing a TT$400,000 sponsorship package with the Ma Pau Casino. And the Stars hope to make former England Premier League stars Jason Scotland and Carlos Edwards—both 37—their next signings.

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago international striker, Jason Scotland, during his England Premiership stint with Wigan Athletic.
Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago international striker, Jason Scotland, during his England Premiership stint with Wigan Athletic.

Scotland and Edwards, who were both members of the Germany 2006 World Cup team, have trained with Stars for over a month and are keen to work with their former Defence Force teammate Ross Russell, who is head coach of the Sangre Grande-based team.

Scotland played professionally in the England and Scotland Premier Leagues with Wigan, Dundee United and Hamilton Academical while Edwards also spent over a decade in Britain and enjoyed two seasons in the England Premiership with Sunderland.

Stars general manager Maurice Eligon explained that the club has had some financial issues, which were partly linked to owner Darryl Mahabir’s unsuccessful court battle over the name of his Japs Fried Chicken franchise.

Ma Pau, who controversially failed to return its own team to the Pro League last season, will help Stars fill the void in what is expected to be a shortened season with two rounds instead of three.

“We have just successfully completed a partnership with Ma Pau, so from September 1 we will be known as Ma Pau Stars for this season,” Eligon told Wired868. “North East Stars will like to thank Ma Pau for this deal.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago stalwarts Carlos Edwards (number 11) and Chris Birchall (number 7) train with their teammates during the 2006 World Cup in Germany,
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago stalwarts Carlos Edwards (number 11) and Chris Birchall (number 7) train with their teammates during the 2006 World Cup in Germany,

Not to be left out, Morvant Caledonia United also announced a new commercial partnership as the Courts furniture store agreed to pump TT$1.2 million into the club over the next three years.

Morvant Caledonia co-founder Jamaal Shabazz said he hopes the deal, which should use the Courts marketing team to help promote their league games, will reinvigorate the former Caribbean champions who were eighth last season.

“It comes at a time when sports, football and the Pro League needs investor confidence,” said Shabazz, “because usually in the downturn of the economy, corporate Trinidad tends to see that as a reason not to partner, sponsor or invest in sport. For us, that is a big statement of confidence [in us].”

Veteran World Cup 2006 midfielder Densill Theobald, 34, will again start the new term with the “Eastern Stallions” while current Soca Warriors goalkeeper Marvin Phillip, 32, also stays for a second successive season.

Towering 27-year-old Jamal Gay, a former 2009 Under-20 World Cup player, is training with Morvant Caledonia at present after helping San Juan Jabloteh secure CONCACAF Champions League football for the 2017/18 season. However, his potential return will depend on the club’s financial health.

Photo: Morvant Caledonia United goalkeeper Marvin Phillip (left) stops a penalty kick from Point Fortin Civic captain Nickcolson Thomas during Lucozade Sport Goal Shield qualifying action on 5 April 2016 at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Morvant Caledonia United goalkeeper Marvin Phillip (left) stops a penalty kick from Point Fortin Civic captain Nickcolson Thomas during Lucozade Sport Goal Shield qualifying action on 5 April 2016 at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/CA-images/Wired868)

Jabloteh are expected to replace Gay with 29-year-old Trinidad and Tobago international striker Willis Plaza.

Arguably, the biggest change within the Morvant Caledonia squad this season will be on the bench, as assistant coach Rajesh Latchoo takes over the reigns of the senior squad while former head coach and San Juan North Secondary coach Jerry Moe will head up their youth academy instead.

But Shabazz stressed that the Stallions will be just as keen about their off-field activities this season, as they aim to relaunch their community outreach programme, which has been muted in recent years as they focused on financial survival.

“We want to do activities within the community and to start back to train in Morvant and do things in the schools and the community which is part of our sponsorship deal…

“One of the things we want to do is have a primary schools league for the schools within the Morvant/Caledonia and Barataria area and also have a homework centre and get the youths to interact with various activities and break down some of the barriers set up by the gangsters.

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago co-head coach and Caledonia AIA co-founder Jamaal Shabazz (right) helps out at a SPORTT Company Easter Camp. (Courtesy SPORTT Company)
Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago co-head coach and Caledonia AIA co-founder Jamaal Shabazz (right) helps out at a SPORTT Company Easter Camp.
(Courtesy SPORTT Company)

“Also having had funding cut from Sport Company and the income we had from NLCB fell through… It gives us that added boost. Massy Motors is still with us and we continue to look for partners…

“We are really going to try to get creative to bring in funding and to be able to make ourselves worthy of being a partner to companies like Massy, Courts and the likes.”

The Pro League will not be left out in a time of transition, as they look to implement some radical changes for the upcoming season.

On Tuesday, the 10 member clubs will vote on a raft of proposals from its recently appointed marketing committee, which is headed by Mahabir and also includes Central FC managing director and former Sport Minister Brent Sancho.

Among the proposals is an abbreviated football calendar for this year’s competition from September to January, which will allow the Pro League to run its next season from April to December 2017.

Photo: Central FC midfielder Nathaniel Garcia runs with the ball while San Juan Jabloteh players (from left) Kennedy Hinkson, Keyon Edwards and Damian Williams keep watch during Pro League action on 17 May 2016 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. Jabloteh won 3-2. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC midfielder Nathaniel Garcia runs with the ball while San Juan Jabloteh players (from left) Kennedy Hinkson, Keyon Edwards and Damian Williams keep watch during Pro League action on 17 May 2016 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
Jabloteh won 3-2.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

This will revert the local top flight competition to its original schedule and should not only harmonise the Pro League calendar with much of CONCACAF but also minimise the disruptions of the Carnival and Christmas periods.

The Pro League schedule was changed, six years ago, to allow clubs to send players for trials in Europe without disrupting their campaign. But there has been little business between the local teams and top European leagues during that period—partly because of the struggles of the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team—while Pro League teams have found themselves disadvantaged in the CONCACAF Champions League, which they enter during pre-season.

Mahabir and Sancho, according to a football source, have suggested that the current Pro League season should run with no breaks for international football unless the Soca Warriors are playing in Trinidad and Tobago.

It means clubs like Central and W Connection, in particular, could be without key players for some fixtures. However, the truncated season will also allow teams to operate on a tightened budget, as they only need to find five months’ salary for their players as opposed to nine.

The Toyota Classic Cup, which combines the Pro League and National Super League clubs, might be the only knockout competition this season.

Photo: Fans look on from the sidelines during TT Pro League action between Defence Force and San Juan Jabloteh on 12 March 2016 at the Barataria Recreation Ground. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Fans look on from the sidelines during TT Pro League action between Defence Force and San Juan Jabloteh on 12 March 2016 at the Barataria Recreation Ground.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Another suggestion is that the Pro League clubs select four shared venues for outings this season, which will mean teams essentially concede their home advantage. This initiative intends to again cut costs and reach out to fans by offering more double headers and a steady fixture list.

The Ato Boldon Stadium, Barataria Recreation Grounds, Siparia Complex and Mahaica Oval are four proposed venues with the Hasely Crawford Stadium touted for the cup final. This idea is not believed to be widely popular and clubs would need to be convinced in time for Tuesday’s vote.

Either way, the Pro League appears ready to implement new ideas to ensure its survival in the current rough financial climate.

The return of former Defence Force stand-outs, Scotland and Edwards, who join a third ex-England Premiership player, Kenwyne Jones, should help.

Jones, who represented Sunderland, Stoke City and Cardiff City in England’s top flight and is the current Soca Warriors captain, scored on his debut for defending champions Central FC in a 2-2 Champions League draw with Sporting Kansas City on Tuesday 16 August at the Ato Boldon Stadium.

Photo: Central FC star forward Kenwyne Jones (left) tries to motor past Sporting Kansas City midfielder Soni Mustivar during CONCACAF Champions League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 16 August 2016. Both teams played to a 2-2 draw. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC star forward Kenwyne Jones (left) tries to motor past Sporting Kansas City midfielder Soni Mustivar during CONCACAF Champions League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 16 August 2016.
Both teams played to a 2-2 draw.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

AboutLasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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34 comments

  1. If the PFL are out sourcing the “Commercial Department” will the current staff be fired or salaries reduced. I am one of many that has a HUGE questi

  2. All the x pros i worked with upon there return to tnt never so far set good examples

  3. It had an ex professional no an assistant at the central fc he came back an his method of approach to the young players was cuss an fighting them in the dressing room lol

  4. Would be interested in understanding who else is on the marketing committee. Also, with the potential cut in the number of paychecks, wondering if players would be paid more per month, or additional monies for July/August preseason?

  5. ” However, the truncated season will also allow teams to operate on a tightened budget, as they only need to find five months’ salary for their players as opposed to nine.”
    Wha kinna CEPEP league is this…so men don’t get pay year round?..this is part time wuk… this should be called “par time pro league”

    • Lol. Well, most players get contract at start of season until the end of that season. It means you have to fend for yourself during the offseason and might even not be paid during pre season.
      It is the hardships of a being a pro league player.

  6. Siparia ? Jesus Lord…I will hold to see how that suggested venue works out. Siparia is a sand city, the field is grass and sand, not dirt.
    Waiting to see
    What about gate fees ? Still $20 ? Lol

  7. Big respect to Morvant Caledonia and North East on their new deals.
    Glad they convinced someone to invest in their product.

  8. Thank God they finally considering changing the calendar.
    How would teams need to provide 5 months salary instead of 9 ? Lasana

  9. Hmmm. Some innovative ideas to adjusting the ProLeague, very interesting indeed

  10. FINALLYYYY….Pro League using good sense to play after Carnival Season. International calendar or not…most trinis religiously support fetes and mas bands over sport [which can’t compete]…and professional sport is about making $$$

  11. we have to travel far this year to see our team play…… ???? we have travelled so very far….to beat you up in mahaica

  12. Congrats to Caledonia and north east….great vibes for our pro league clubs..

  13. So I guess that Coach Terry Fenwick won’t be returning in our Professional league with his own francise ent Mr. Live Wire.?

  14. ..Money x domestic appeal and strength x international performance and respect = Football With A Future..

  15. Yeah. North East represented a geographic area. That’s a pity. But glad to see Ma Pau help out.

  16. ..Congratulations to Cale and Stars. And to their partners. Nigel, I hear you but if their name has to go before the club name, so be it. Beggars can’t be choosers. And in Trini, Sport is a begging business. We do what we have to do..

  17. I know it’s their money, and their right, blah, blah, blah, but I hate the practice of clubs prefixing their name with that of their sponsor.

  18. Earl Best

    Truth be told, I’d like the Pro League to take off and really excite the local fans. But despite the grand plans and the pragmatism, I’m not optimistic. The problem is that the competing options seem so far superior.

    Would I really pay money to watch Willis Plaza when I can see Willian for free? Given a choice between Scotland (Jason) and Scotland’s best, would I really opt for the local?

    I seriously doubt it…

  19. I met an ex – player who played for North East stars back in the days as a defender and he told me that when he played against my player Marvin Oliver he kept steering at him, that his game was off and the Coach took him of the field and asked him what was wrong with him, and he told the Coach that he was just having a bad game eh, but like he got hypnotized just watching Marvin playing the football eh Lol so it is very good that some of our real professional players are returning to our sweet country to take part in our professional league and that is really important for our young upcoming stars to speak to them and understand about the real professional world out there and what it takes to be a real professional player eh.

    • I fully agree. Just like players like Jerren Nixon, Peter Prosper, Russell Latapy, Leonson Lewis and Earl Jean made an impact on the league when they also came to the Pro League after playing abroad. Densill Theobald and Cornell Glen too.
      Hopefully, Kenwyne Jones, Jason Scotland and Carlos Edwards will have that impact this season.

    • Yeah we need to see more prolific goalscorers rise up in the leagues like meh boy Kerry Baptiste who scored over 40 goals in a season eh, hence the reason why we are offering the prize monies to give meh prolific nowadays goal scorers a little push eh, and I know that it will be done because players likes when there are incentives for them to eh lol

  20. Hoping to see old man Jason Scotland show the kids a thing or two. Definitely will be interesting season.
    The pro league still needs to see what the government has for it.

  21. Well this up coming season will be very interesting eh, and I am really looking forward to see plenty more goals been scored from 15 – 30 and more eh LOL