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Letter to Editor: How TTSL could revolutionise T&T football; and why you should care!

“For the first time, these clubs have the opportunity and the awesome responsibility of control over the administration, the politics and the finances of the competition in which they participate…

“TTSL is, in conception and practice (so far) an example of grassroots, ‘coming from below’ football democracy. It comes from the communities of the nation, including Tobago. It is not an imposition from above. It is founded on merit.”

The following Letter to the Editor on the potential of the nascent Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) was submitted to Wired868 by interim TTSL president and CONCACAF technical study group member, Keith Look Loy:

Photo: The Guaya football club can generally count on the full support of its "Green Army" when it takes to the field. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: The Guaya football club can generally count on the full support of its “Green Army” when it takes to the field.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The formation of the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) on 13 December 2016 is arguably the most important development in local football in the last fifteen years.

That is a huge statement. Why do I make it? After all, in the last fifteen years we have witnessed amazing scenes.

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Trinidad and Tobago participated in FIFA World Cups at men’s, women’s and youth level. A professional league was created at the apex of the local game. The Jack Warner era came to an end for better and worse—and I mean “better AND worse”, not “OR”.

Schoolboy football is now televised live to the region, even as the elite game suffers from a lack of gate receipts and income other than State funding. Amazing scenes, indeed.

But I repeat: The formation of the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) on 13 December 2016 is arguably the most important development in local football in the last fifteen years.

Why? Because if the thirteen clubs that grasped the bull firmly by the horns on 13 December 2016 and bestrode it; if these thirteen clubs now bloomed to twenty with the joining of seven more to date; if these twenty clubs, therefore, press on with maturity, bravery and vision to fulfil the potential of their moment, then the landscape of Trinidad and Tobago football will be forever changed. I will explain.

Photo: Defence Force captain Chris Durity (left) looks for passing options while Tobago FC Phoenix 1976 player Onasi Forde (centre) looks on during 2015/16 CNG National Super League action at the Canaan Recreational Grounds, Tobago. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Defence Force captain Chris Durity (left) looks for passing options while Tobago FC Phoenix 1976 player Onasi Forde (centre) looks on during 2015/16 CNG National Super League action at the Canaan Recreational Grounds, Tobago.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

For the past many years—since 2002 I believe—the TTFA has run a competition known as the “National Super League”. This was a mere competition, like the FA Cup and not a proper league. And it was run under a franchise sold by TTFF/TTFA and held by All Sport Promotions Limited (ASP).

ASP did a great job. But the participating clubs in this competition were orphans in this arrangement. Voiceless. Belonging neither to a Regional Association nor to the TTFF/TTFA. Having neither stake nor say in either. And certainly not in a position to seriously influence the politics and direction of the league and Football.

The ASP franchise ended on 31 December 2016. In the evolution of any organism, animal or otherwise, key moments come when the organism is transformed from one state into something qualitatively different.

The member clubs of the National Super League have seized their moment and transformed themselves into the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL).

For the first time, these clubs have the opportunity and the awesome responsibility of control over the administration, the politics and the finances of the competition in which they participate.

Photo: FC Santa Rosa coach Keith Look Loy (centre) talks to his players at halftime while then captain Jovan Rochford (right) has a drink of water during 2015/16 CNG National Super League (NSL) Premiership Division action against Club Sando Moruga at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: FC Santa Rosa coach Keith Look Loy (centre) talks to his players at halftime while then captain Jovan Rochford (right) has a drink of water during 2015/16 CNG National Super League (NSL) Premiership Division action against Club Sando Moruga at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

OK, you say. That’s nice. Buh wah make dat “the most important development in local football in the last 15 years?”

The answer to that question is simple. TTSL is, in conception and practice (so far) an example of grassroots, “coming from below” football democracy. It comes from the communities of the nation, including Tobago.

It is not an imposition from above. It is founded on merit. No buying your way into the dance because you can afford it. You have to win your way in.

And in a football culture where debt and dependency seem to be genetically predisposed, TTSL holds the potential to create an alternative model of viable football administration and management that depends on something other than favours and hand outs. Yes. Even in these “harsh economic times”.

Call me a dreamer. Call me naïve. But my conviction is that the TTSL and its member clubs could produce a product that is marketable—in their communities and to commercial partners.

Photo: Guaya United supporters get behind their team during 2015/16 CNG National Super League action against Defence Force in Guayaguare. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Guaya United supporters get behind their team during 2015/16 CNG National Super League action against Defence Force in Guayaguare.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

This potential is transparent. And spurred on by recognition of this potential and with desire for something better than what exists, TTSL, although less than two months old, has already been approached by potential commercial partners, and many have been the enquiries from regional association clubs that wish to come into the TTSL fold—yes, the consequence of the culture of league membership based on money not merit that has been introduced into our Football by some.

TTSL insists that there must be an integral connection of promotion and relegation with the TT Pro League. Super League clubs have attempted to pursue this for many years. Indeed, TTSL recently wrote to TTPL seeking an urgent discussion of this and other matters.

But “professional football”, as currently organised in Trinidad and Tobago, has failed—commercially and from an organisational standpoint.

Until the new century, every successful club in Trinidad and Tobago was rooted in a community. This is no longer so. That organic connection between club and people in a particular locale was lost around the turn of the century as teams began to pay players and to buy their place in a league.

In the dangerous social and economic climate which we endure, the time is now to return Football to its rightful place—the community. Even as they already make a contribution to Society, the importance of successful community clubs is critical to any chance of social integration today.

Photo: Real Maracas striker Christian Thomas (centre) runs at the Stokely Vale defence during 2015/16 CNG NSL Premiership action at the Maracas Recreation Ground. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Real Maracas striker Christian Thomas (centre) runs at the Stokely Vale defence during 2015/16 CNG NSL Premiership action at the Maracas Recreation Ground.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

TTSL is found in twenty-four communities across the country, including Tobago. This is our “competitive advantage” and TTSL clubs must use it.

In this regard, as few TTSL members now have a youth programme—a real one—it must be a priority in the TTSL scheme of things to have clubs establish and maintain viable youth set ups. We are football clubs and nothing catches youth and allows for their social education better than football.

TTSL has adopted a set of “Founding Principles”, which are essentially: (1) equality of ownership and responsibility to the League and to Football; (2) unflinching commitment to a relationship with regional association football, and to the principle of promotion and relegation—membership based on merit not money—among all tiers of the local club game; and (3) equitable profit sharing by an agreed formula, because it is only the generation of profit for TTSL member club that will allow them sustainable resources to grow and develop themselves and Football as a whole.

But these “Founding Principles”, as worthy as they may be, exist only on paper and will be materialised only via proper planning and smart, tireless work by each club. The latitude for blaming others for failure is now gone.

Photo: Guaya United captain Erskine Johnson (right) tries in vain to stop a cross from reaching Matura ReUnited goal scorer Dorian Robinson during 2015/16 CNG NSL Premiership Division action in Matura. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/WIred868)
Photo: Guaya United captain Erskine Johnson (right) tries in vain to stop a cross from reaching Matura ReUnited goal scorer Dorian Robinson during 2015/16 CNG NSL Premiership Division action in Matura.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

TTSL has submitted its application for TTFA membership on 8 January 2017 and has requested a meeting with the TTFA Board of Management to ensure its application is successful. The league is requesting nothing more from TTFA than recognition. No money. Nothing.

TTSL is a progressive development and we expect TTFA to facilitate the membership of an elite league with twenty-four of its members. The League will begin its inaugural season on Sunday 11 June 2017.

We live in the era of twenty-four hour cable television football from elite league around the world. TTSL is not La Liga or the EPL or Serie A or the Bundesliga. We know this. It takes a conscious political decision by each and everyone to support the local game.

You love Trinidad and Tobago? You love Trinidad and Tobago football? You love Trinidad and Tobago youth?

Stop talking. Find the nearest TTSL game and go support that Holy Trinity…

Photo: Matura ReUnited goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel (standing) gets some help from a young football fan during CNG 2015/16 National Super League Premiership Division action against Petrotrin Palo Seco at the Matura Recreation Ground. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Matura ReUnited goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel (standing) gets some help from a young football fan during CNG 2015/16 National Super League Premiership Division action against Petrotrin Palo Seco at the Matura Recreation Ground.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

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132 comments

  1. ..Never attended ONE meeting of TTSL..

  2. ..Never happen. Everybody in and out the TTSL want to play..

  3. if not sir my suggestion to you and i am sure that Keith Look Loy and many others will share my sentiments….. if you or your club have a problem with the way things are set up then the simplest of solutions for you is to just NOT COMPETE AT ALL…. IF YOU BELIEVE that your investments will be be in danger then withdraw them and not compete…..other than that stop fighting the progress that others are trying to achieve

  4. as i said or asked Roland Clarke have you been to the meetings personally? or seen the prospectus put forward by Keith look loky and company?

  5. Good stuff,let’s look at the bigger picture in that it has the possibility of uniting communities to come together and support something. I am yet to see an atmosphere like the ‘east coast derby’ between Guaya and Matura FC! The first Jabloteh ‘home’ game it had some ppl shouting out..’god is great,the community has football again,the ppl are going to come together and crime is going to go down!’…and as Keith said at the end of the letter. it’s time to STOP TALKING!!!

  6. The club administration did an they among the local fans or man on the street outside of all agenda the main concern is that one concern .

  7. great….. have you been to any of the meetings held thus far?

  8. again Roland Clarke i am asking you are you at present associated with any club in the new ttsl or have been to any of the meetings held thus far? please just answer yes or no

  9. and to you once more Jamaal Shabazz please stop avoiding answering the questions that i have asked earlier….. you have come out in defence strongly as why the top two leagues should not merge….. but i do not see your point… so my questions are geared toward helping me get a better understanding of your vision

  10. You never did hostory you first hsve to no where you come from before you no where you are going .

  11. I worked at two professional club i have been in pro league football most of my life the pro league ran for years with out any cloud of corruption i worked at the superleague level an there was tantated by corruption at one time now we looking at a new chapter an the local man simple asking if those ghost from the past will not hunt the new vision .

  12. what cloud Roland Clarke? i must ask you do you have a club that is affiliated to the new super league or playing in the new super league?

  13. I am not a follower i am a leader there are a cloud of suspicion that hangs over the way foward with the new super league thats the voice of concern by most club oners coaches etc it is a topic i asked a question an if it offends who the cap fits let them wear it . I am just a coach my name will only called when i lose draw win or get fired noting more .as the saying goes not every skinn teeth is a smile it is a present topic among clubs fans etc .coaches i do not drink tea for other people .

  14. let me apologize gentle men for my behavior earlier… at times i do let my emotions get the better of me…… how ever i must say to Roland stop dwelling on the past…. gine the new super league a chance.. you cannnot expect a new venture to fail simply because of the actions of one corrupt individual….. this is a new venture new administration with none of the old heads from before……

  15. I love this. Definitely need to get back to the community and a proper relegation and promotion system as mentioned is something I definitely would advocate. Whole thing is easier said than done but at least the thought process is in the right direction. Would love to be a part of it, whether as a player or on the administrative side. All the best either way. Forward ever!

  16. Wrong thread Roland. Go to the top and start over.

  17. I’ve been reading the discussion and a few things delight me and even more trouble me. Someone might say you live in foreign so this is not your business as I was told last week . But I’m Trini and concerned.
    (1) Keith and his colleagues have demonstrated excellent leadership in trying to revive community ownership and support or teams via the SL
    (2) they have been very open about it and the rationale is clear. I haven’t seen a clear. I soon laid out like this in a long time
    (3) they have already been able to garner grassroots support and they don’t have that string band of baggage that comes with distrust. I little smattering is ok – people should ask questions

    On the areas that trouble me

    (1) in ability or unwillingness of the major bodies sit and talk.
    (2) major distrust of the governing body which then tarnishes all that it sanctions
    (3) lack of clarity in decision making at the national TTFA/TTFF levels which further disenfranchises constituents
    (4) general lack of understanding of how governance works at all levels
    (5) poorly packaged product which will not or cannot draw consistently high levels of corporate support/sponsorship
    (6) unclear league rules and performance expectations

    All this said, Look Loy and company’s SL innovation (though nit a totally new idea) is pushing us to talk and the bodies should meet soon. I’m willing to offer my services as a mediator and facilitator to such discussions out of which will emerge an operations plan for tt football and a set of guidelines (performance, disciplinary, marketing, etc).

  18. The shift that has taken place in football over the years…is something that has caused our players not to b able to break into that European threshold….
    When allllllllllll the focus and Finance is put into Pro League clubs and players….we then 4get the development process of the kids that are leaving school in their mid and late teens…
    Where r these kids going to play…develop…if u r not good enough to play at Pro League level…then u look to the Super League….but there is a League under the Super League….that is the league that needs to be organised for our young talent….

  19. My 2 cents:
    1) conflicts of interest,clubs would not support persons in positions affiliated to any club directly competing in a financial league.
    2)zonal leagues,Is the grassroot teams that need the financial assistance,it used to be the Mecca of football back in the day.
    3)Super League,is the replacement of the National league in my playing days it was the best football and would still be the community league and should be recognized by the TTFA.
    4)Professional league,should no way be sharing space in any league with amateur clubs,it would devalue the professionalism that we are trying so hard to instill in our culture.
    Critics/Dislikes, would always be there no matter what.

    • To your 4th point, players would gravitate towards SL clubs as it affords them opportunity to work in addition to play the sport they love.
      There are some really good players in SL and soon some ProLeague players who don’t see themself being a national player or getting a contract abroad would fall into SL.
      The output to input (financially) not adding up.

  20. ..Agreed. Stay on point Trolling not welcome..

  21. We way out of the original conversation and here we see just what I alluded to in my first discourse. With turf comes gangs and whether the weapons be aggressive words or Guns the need to protect is obvious. But no one in the Pro League is averse to promotion and relegation. I will not be party to attacking you or you guys attacking the league baselessly. If you want to conduct it like that. Later my brothers

  22. You need to hush at one time you jus had to regester a team an was geting funding from the sport company there are quite a frw teams got funding an now are out the super league

  23. Roland Clarke please hush… You know nothing… Malabar FC was a political promise by Anil Roberts… Players received salaries like real professionals and we’re paid through the life sport program as students and coaches in the program…. No more Anil =no lifesport= no more Malabar…. Like I said if you don’t have facts to back up by our statement please refrain from commenting and sounding like a no brainer…. The only TTSL club that probably depends on govt money is utt and they are a govt. Organization much like police and defence force

  24. What is happening here is like super league want to show pro league i am better i will show you all how this is done it has not kicked off yet however it already heading beyond the boundaries

  25. This is why FB discussions are sometimes helpful with pertinent contributions from folks that may not necessarily end up in the eventual meeting rooms.

  26. But you have to admit that after 17long years….. That’s more than half my age BTW… The should have no need for the subvention….. Clearly some part of the model is failing and skeene and DWJ ET Al have not implemented

  27. Too much is conducted in the dark….bringing something to light on fb or social media is not the same as discussing it. Keith is correct in this regard. What is wrong with asking for a meeting on fb? Also…if the basis of getting into what supposed to be the premier football league in TT is money, how does that assist football or improvement through competition? How difficult can it be to discuss then implement a merit based promotion and relegation system?

  28. Some super league team got government assistance also fomer malabar fc was one .

  29. Pro League teams don’t fatten their pocket from taxpayers money. That would be several steps too far.
    There is no way any club is getting fat from $50k per month.

  30. Talk is cheap… These fellas only concerned about fattening their pockets with tax payers money and not improving the football in interest of nationality

  31. It will happen. They may not agree, but the talks will take place in the interest of T&T football.

  32. Is it me or anyone else noticed that Jamaal has avoided every question I throwing at him? He has gone suspiciously quiet

  33. I highly doubt it would happen given that the head TTfa honcho is a member of the pro league round table Timothy

  34. It would seem that everyone here is more or less on the same page and want our football to progress to a higher standard. But a lot of things cannot happen individually with people operating in their own space, albeit for different reasons. There must be discussions with all stakeholders in terms of uniting the leagues to facilitate promotion, joint competitions and cooperation and support from the head body.

  35. Skeene wouldn’t want that…. Like we forget his academy is contracted to represent one of the serviceman teams in the league? If every team has to have its own youth structure then he would loose whatever pittance his academy gets

  36. Transparency and accountability will help all parties, and from all perspectives. Praying the egos and old rivalries take a back seat for football’s sake.

  37. Which is all I am saying Lasana Liburd benefits must be all around and enjoyed by all not just a select few…. We may not be able to develop a utopian structure but I am dam sure that we can come close….

  38. ..Correct. But we like to conduct football business in the dark. And to walk away from promises and agreements.That is our national and football culture. LET’S MEET TTPL! Ah saying it on facebook..

  39. Devon and Keith, the truth is the Pro League agreed to promotion and relegation with the Super League two years ago.
    That was part of the discussions with FIFA that saw the Pro League get a vote in the November 2015 general elections. It was mandated. Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene confirmed so publicly at the time.
    But FIFA never followed up, the entire election was flawed anyway… and a cynic might assume the Pro League believes it can get away with pretending that promise never happened. Maybe.
    Or maybe the TTSL’s push for a seat in the table will force the Pro League’s hand.
    Or maybe the Pro League was always going to do it but was just operating on Trini time…
    I think it is something that will benefit the Pro League just as much as the TTSL.

  40. An keith the reson i ask the question the runing of the super league at least had changing of the guard about 3 times one year it went under the care of the E f a and all funds could not be accointed for no prise money could of been paid an in this land of ours where foitball and borball is equal on the playing field question marks are in the air

  41. I did say sponsorship…. But how many of you can stand without it? Or rather less of it…. The of has no self sufficiency in it but yet you all prevent others from joining…. Be that as it may rangers like all other clubs have made significant financial investments over the years but what has that produced? How many league titles? Fa cups Toyota classics pro bowls or goal Shields have they won? How many rangers players represented TNT at senior kens tournament @ cfu concacaf or wcq in the past 17years? Please answer

  42. ..What? Allyuh vex we issued a media release about the fact that we wrote to you? What? Is a secret? So they could ignore our approach in secrecy as has been the case before?.THIS is the problem. Let’s meet in the spirit of progress and talk..

  43. As usual I just defending to add balance

    • Please oh please I beg you to enlighten me sir and not try to subtly change the topic or divert from my line of questioning… I know all about the 50k grant… I read papers and watch the news… I’m surprised to hear you say that after 17 long years that PFL clubs now decide to sell t shirts to make money…. I wonder what price and could I or the common minimum wage earner afford one for each family member to show support for their team and develop that die hard supporter spirit in the younger generation

  44. If SL authorised you to conduct your organisation”s business on fb Pro League has not authorized me to do such

  45. The Board discussed it in our monthly meeting last week. He will but the Pro League Clubs not in favour of conducting their affairs on fb. And I think it’s a great discussion to have but I cannot preempt a Pro League Board decision on process