With the clock on the walls of the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva ticking down to tomorrow’s Trinidad and Tobago Super League’s (TTSL) inaugural election, interim president Keith Look Loy went on the offensive against his challenger, Ryan Ottley.
And then went under the radar.
However, despite the charges hanging around him, the 29-year-old interim Vice-president who is challenging Look Loy for the post of president remains cautiously optimistic about his chances of success.
“I can’t say there is 100% confidence [that I will win the election],” he told Wired868. “For me, it is 50/50 and it could go either way.
“You are talking about Mr Look Loy who has years and years of experience in this business, so I would not take it for granted.”
Contacted for a pre-election comment, Look Loy, who rarely shies away from making himself heard, informed Wired868 that he would not be fielding any questions concerning the imminent election, which, a guesstimate suggests, will start around 7.30pm.
Look Loy has proposed a full slate of six candidates, including Jameson Rigues (1st Vice-president), Eddison Dean (2nd Vice-president), George Joseph (Ordinary Member), Clayton Morris (Ordinary Member) and Colin Murray (Ordinary Member).
Satisfied that Guaya United manager Rigues is the best man for the job, Ottley has no candidate for 1st Vice-president and has nominated only two Ordinary Members in Stephanie Guevara and Michael De Four. His 2nd Vice-president nominee is Marvin Wilson.
“We believe that Jameson Rigues was responsible for developing and doing up the business plan. He has the ideas, he knows what needs to be done. So we will support him…”
Ottley has presented a manifesto which speaks to many of the issues he sees as important. But challenged by Wired868 to provide more precise details, he admitted to feeling that the TTSL Constitution has some flaws which can be exploited by the person at the helm—whence his reservations about the power the elected TTSL president will enjoy if the status quo remains.
“When we look at the constitution now,” he said, “we understand that the constitution appears to be a dictatorship disguised as a democracy.”
“The president can sign contracts and then come and tell the membership,” he explained. “We want the membership to decide that this is what we want and it will be agreed and signed to. […] We needed urgency but we ended up operating as though it was an emergency. And we didn’t want to end up in a situation like that.”
Stressing that the observation was not intended as an indictment of the interim President, he added that, “We’re realizing that our governing document is flawed in that sense and we will be pushing for constitutional reform to look at those things and see how we can tighten up that and make that better.”
The interim President declined to respond to the specific issue of the potential for the abuse of power by the elected president. However, he had already suggested to selected voting members that Ottley, a Flying Officer in the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force and the current manager of the Regiment’s TTSL team, might not be a good candidate for the post because of his too close links to the umbrella body.
In an e-mail making the rounds among TTSL personnel, Look Loy claims to have learned that “a very high-ranking TTFA official and a female member of the TTFA office staff have personally called [officials of some TTSL clubs] to offer bribes—coaching courses and other promises—in exchange for an Ottley vote.” The correspondence called on the TTSL membership not to be swayed by election promises but instead to hold fast to their beliefs.
Ottley dismissed all claims of interference on his behalf as “mischief,” noting that the e-mail was initially only sent to selected persons within the TTSL membership.
“I don’t have a personal relationship with any administrator in the TTFA,” he told Wired868 in response. “We worked well business-wise to get the constitutional reform to have the TTFA recognise the TTSL.
“That would have been my closest relationship with the TTFA. And that was a basis for understanding the requirements for us to get the sign-off to have that done….”
His manifesto does indeed mention the need for the TTSL to work closely with its parent body. But he insists that such collaboration will in no way threaten or compromise the League’s independence.
“The TTFA is the governing body; CONCACAF and FIFA will not talk to the TTSL,” he told Wired868. “They will talk to TTFA who will be like our agent. So, in order to access funding, courses and things that will bring value to the football in Trinidad and Tobago, we will need to involve the TTFA.
“[…] We aren’t giving up our independence. We aren’t going to say you can take the TTSL and do whatever you want with it; (…) however, we aren’t saying that we are just going to fight the TTFA for no reason either.”
He pointed out that his approach was in contrast to Look Loy’s, his focus being on integration rather than division or separation.
Look Loy, a former CONCACAF Technical Committee member and TTFA technical advisor, is of the view that persons external to the TTSL have no place running the affairs of the organization. After FC Santa Rosa’s victory over WASA FC in St Joseph on 9 July, he told Wired868 with conviction, “Let those who labour hold the reins of power.”
In that interview, he expressed confidence that the general membership was pleased with his work as interim President.
The TTSL clubs have asked me to run,” he said then, “not all of them [but] the vast majority have asked me to remain in office. […] People are saying the board has done well, [so] leave the board there and let us go forward.”
Ottley concurred—with a caveat: “In my opinion, Mr Look Loy has done well in the short space of time […] [But] we are not looking at a president for four months or five months again but you are looking at somebody you are putting in position, based upon the constitution, for four years and potentially eight years.”
The TTSL needs, he said, to put structures and systems in place for the long haul and not just the interim. And he insisted that, without positive energy from the general membership, he would not have tossed his hat in the election ring.
The manifesto also stresses the need to get more involvement from the communities and to better integrate Tobago into the TTSL operations; football on the island needing, in his opinion, a turnaround.
“Community-based sponsors” are also mentioned in the manifesto and it explains that the hope is to have the small business owners in the communities sponsor the community teams.
“Whether it is the grocery on the corner or the barbershop or [one of] these things,” Ottley said, “we [will say] ‘We want allyuh to sponsor a team. Just a $1000’ and show them the prize that is to be won.”
It is an idea, one feels, which will find favour with Look Loy. And with the 24 clubs, who will all have one vote.
To whom will they hand responsibility for implementation over the next four years? Will Look Loy be rewarded for the many months he has toiled as the League’s interim President? Or will the interim Vice-president win promotion to the top rank to try his hand at running things his way?
In less than 24 hours, Trinidad and Tobago and the TTSL will have an answer.
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock….