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Look Loy: Fakoory’s Pro League plan is playing politics; football and footballers will be big losers

“The fact is that the TT Pro League is no more than a political turf that certain football people wish to protect; (it’s) a dead horse that they keep flogging in the hope that further injections of State and/or TTFA funds will resuscitate it.

“The fight by some to keep the TTPL alive is a fight to maintain the political weight of the league-—it has the largest number of VOTES of any group/body in the TTFA General Meeting.”

Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) president Keith Look Loy responds to a suggestion by St Ann’s Rangers owner Richard Fakoory, published in the Trinidad Guardian, that—among other things—the Pro League clubs may stop paying its players and continue as the country’s top flight competition:

Photo: Then Central FC attacker Kadeem Corbin (left) and St Ann’s Rangers defender Shaquille Moses (right) tussle for the ball while Central midfielder Sean De Silva looks on during 2015/16 TT Pro League action.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

I respect Richard Fakoory. He has committed so much time and money to our club football over many years. Now, Pro League business is Pro League business but I respond to Fakoory’s comments in today’s Trinidad Guardian because these comments draw the Super League into the fray—and I am left entirely confused.

Fakoory is reported as saying that he believes the Pro League clubs could “get together and run their own competition like the Super League.”  I am astonished by this.

Have the member clubs of the TT Pro League not been in charge of their own competition from inception 17—or however many—years ago until now? Is it that they have become so addicted to state funding that they no longer recognise that the TTPL is their league and not the government’s?

Is it that they are attempting to divorce themselves from the crumbling of their league? Is it that they see the endemic problems of the Pro League as the sole responsibility of the League administration and/or CEO and not as the collective responsibility of all the Pro League member clubs, which have sat in board meetings every month for the past decade presiding over the demise of the top tier of local club football?

Photo: Point Fortin Civic defender and captain Andre Ettienne (left) forces Defence Force midfielder Curtis Gonzales (centre) to take evasive action during the 2013/2014 Pro League season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

I am astonished at this disconnect from the reality and urgency of the situation.

Moreover, Fakoory is evidently ignorant of TT Super League competition protocols and regulations—or at least he is misinformed. In an attempt to imply that the Super League operation is not as financially onerous as that of the TTPL, he is quoted as saying:

“TTSL teams do not function as pro teams. They do not ensure that all teams are outfitted, they do not provide security for officials and players, do not provide medics at matches or meals to players and staff, the TTSL do not provide transport to and from matches and, most importantly, it does not pay all players’ salaries.”

As I said, Fakoory is misinformed. Like any club, TTSL members are obviously required to provide uniforms, transportation, meals, etc. for players. Indeed, I daresay that TTSL clubs play more matches and do far more travelling than TTPL clubs do—from Chaguaramas to Guayaguayare to Moruga to Tobago, and every point in-between.

Security must be provided for referees by the home team at every match. TT Super League players are insured by the League while, according to information given to me by TTPL members, TT Pro League players are not insured by theirs.

Photo: Guaya United forward Carlon Hughes (left) is congratulated by his teammates after completing a beaver-trick against Cunupia FC at the Guayaguayare Recreation Ground on 9 July 2017.
Guaya won 6-2.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/CA Images/Wired868)

Regarding financial compensation, several TTSL clubs provide employment for players, including Defence Force, Police, WASA, Guaya United. TTSL players have the ability to play for a monthly stipend paid by the club, which they add to the wages from their full-time jobs. This amounts to more than the pittance far too many so-called “professional” players receive in the TT Pro League.

Indeed, many are the Super League players who would not leave their full-time job to play in the Pro League. This is the reason why many TT Pro League players are now turning up in the Super League.

The fact is that the TT Pro League is no more than a political turf that certain football people wish to protect; (it’s) a dead horse that they keep flogging in the hope that further injections of State and/or TTFA funds will resuscitate it.

The fight by some to keep the TTPL alive is a fight to maintain the political weight of the league—it has the largest number of votes of any group/body in the TTFA General Meeting. And it is an effort to maintain the current constitutional/political arrangement that—no matter what the level of the TTPL operation, administrative or technical—the TTPL will remain untouchable as the top tier of our domestic game, with the monopoly on participation in CFU/CONCACAF club football.

Photo: TTFA president and W Connection owner David John-Williams (centre) greets players (from right) Hughtun Hector, Alvin Jones and Maurice Forde before kick-off against Police FC in the TTFA FA Trophy final at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 8 December 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

In the end, the artificial resuscitation some seek for the Pro League will do our club football absolutely no good in the short, medium or long term.

The time for progressive change in our club football is long overdue. I repeat my call for the formation of a multi-tiered National League that is based on promotion and relegation from the regions through the top level and which unites all bonafide clubs based on technical merit.

I also repeat my previously stated concern for the imminent demise of the TTPL—which Fakoory has made light of in his comments—and re-issue my invitation to any and all TTPL clubs which wish to discuss the possibility of joining the Super League in the interim to advise the Super League of such.

Editor’s Note: The following are the quotes attributed to St Ann’s Rangers owner Richard Fakoory by the Trinidad Guardian:

“It may just be an ordinary league but my team will be playing for sure. The players and teams that want to play can play, and those who don’t want to play will have to go elsewhere, that’s all…

“[The Super League] do not ensure that all teams are outfitted, they do not provide security for officials and players, do not provide medics at matches or meals to players and staff, the TTSL do not provide transport to and from matches and most importantly, it does not pay all players’ salaries.”

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93 comments

  1. Good read I agree with the idea of having a promotional system it would further build bonds with teams and communities having a team to identify with. Therefore making a platform for seeing and recognizing more talent in T and T.
    May I add that the talks for the Caribbean league to be up for discussions, when we have achieved stability of TnT’s football.

  2. When TnT qualified for the 2006 WC, we got the perfect catalyst to kick start the TTPL into a truly independent and professional league, corporate TnT would of been willing to come on board, so to sponsors from outside had it not been for personal greed from all parties involved, instead it had the total opposite effect, it led to TTFF filing bankruptcy……

    Was it 180M+ the TTFF collected from WC participation?
    Hmmmmmmm

  3. It is unsustainable for the Government to keep pumping millions into the TTPL, the TTPL have been around way to long to be dependant on government funding Still, it just doesn’t make sense.

    Unfortunately we in TnT have gotten so accustomed to state funding and subsidies that we have forgotten how to be independent….
    Is time the TTPL start standing on its own feet.

  4. Maybe this is an opportunity to start over and build again.

  5. Why is this news … This is everyday life in trinidad … Everything political … To get a job and all …

  6. I feel like we just keep going backward yes

  7. Corporate TT will back a good product, run by Business persons, with a great marketing plan.

    Not a league run by ex-footballers, whose sole interest is self!

    • The fella from Scotia bank I think it is had a very great marketing plan for Central F. C. educating the players about monies, getting vehicles from them, etc, etc, and then he was rail road when the ex sports minister thought that he was going to loose the hold on his club hence the reason why the club ended up in the state that it is in and the ex sports minister decided to sell I heard ..so you are so right Sheldon Scipio these ex footballers is all about ah set ah hype and self and some of the admiistrators to eh. Them really good yes steeuuppss

    • Bankers Insurance plans, included bringing Scotia on board to provide car loans, they were going to double the 1 million they put the year prior, we were getting Central FC vehicles, player’s housing close to the Ato Boldon stadium, new just finished apartments, etc. That is the meeting they chose not to attend. The only thing was Banker’s needed full accountability, and disclosure. All monies would be paid according to the budget, through the bank. It would be run as a business.

    • And fuss the long term vision went over both the ex sports minister and his right hand man Kevin Harrison heads especially when the word accountability and disclosure was mentioned eh, other corporate businesses wudda surely come on board to help the other clubs . Them really good yes.

  8. TTFF president taking all the money and national players who now beat USA ain’t get pay yet . You hear what I say they ain’t get pay yet . Savage literally

  9. i knew Fakoory from basketball. he was a man with the right heart, but headstrong in his own ways of doing things.
    Those ideas might have worked in the 80s…where the infrastructure was set up differently, but have those ideas evolved to suit the current realities of sportbusiness in 2018 T&T?
    this idea that the Pro League needs to “get together and run their own competition” reeks of the particular brand of delusions that this generation of sport entrepreneurs persist in.

  10. Bullshit…de biggest salary earner in de pro league is dexter skeene..it dead

  11. I understand why Keith formed the other pro league. But how can a country of this size sustain two pro leagues? Where else do we see that? I don’t know if these two leagues both with strong personalities at their helms can find some type of accommodation. If not, Trinbago football will suffer and what passes for professional football will be watered down brandy.

  12. well as many of you know, we offered to fix the TTPL several years back, but political agendas and government ineptitude stopped us in our tracks

    I personally and professionally believe that the TandT league system could be the best in the region, but it is slowly starting to look like a joke

  13. Fakoory really so Dotish boy!? Steups…

  14. In other words the football needs to be in our communities and this I have been saying many moons ago in order to get the real crowd supporters and sponsors the same like Guya united whenever they play away from home over 500 supporters follows them and I can just imagine whenever they play at home.

  15. Earl. Fully understand. However, I think corporate TnT will get behind a good product – one that is supported by the people. Government can also provide incentives by making donations tax deductable. I’m also thinking that by making teams regionally based, they can tap into the corporate funding options in their immediate areas.

  16. So Carlos Lee it seems that the corporate sponsors doesn’t want to be involve in any football at this time in our sweet country so what make you think that they will now come on board with your suggestion eh, after what happened to the sponsors monies back in 2006 eh, over 200 million just disappeared just so, just so eh and these present owners aren’t doing any kind of marketting eh.Them really good yes.

  17. The TTSL and TTPL do not need to exist at the expense of one another. Both leagues are critical to the growth and development of football in TnT and they must learn to co-exist. The pro-league in particular must not be allowed to die, however, it must be revamped as it’s current structure / organization / funding is unsustainable. The TTFA and relevant stakeholders (SL, PL, etc.) need to meet soon to brainstorm options for revamping the league structure of football in TnT. One option is to temporarily implement a single entity professional league similar to the MLS. The single entity structure would start with approximately 8 teams. The teams would be deployed regionally, with 1 in POS, 1 in San Fernando, 1 in Couva, 1 in Arima, 1 in the Mayaro/Guay area, 1 in the Grande/Toca area, 1 in the Tunapuna/Curepe area, and 1 in Tobago. Regions/communities would need to bid to host a pro-league franchise and for the first 10 years 50% of the teams’ budget would be funded by the government. The remaining 50% would come from corporate sponsorship, community donations, gate receipts etc. As a single entity the pro-league will be marketed as a single product. Revenues generated through television contracts, etc. would be shared by all teams. In addition to the single entity pro-league, TnT should establish a amateur/semi-pro league. The amateur/semi-pro-league would be a promotion/demotion based league and together with the secondary school league would serve as a feeder league to the pro-league. Each of the teams in the amateur/semi-pro league, while independent in nature, could be aligned with a pro-league team similar to the relationship between AAA and AA baseball teams in the US baseball league.

    • Makes most sense and workable. Your structure is actually a merger of the two leagues. ONLY 3 MUST adds…1. Club Ownership open to ANYONE [not 8 or 12 club owners] 2. Right [QUALIFIED] personnel and 3. No WASA/Army/UTT etc. they are not communities that will bring continuity [gates/tv etc.] They can be employees or students but assigned [contracted] to the Community Teams.

    • My research has lead me to see that unlike china with family legacy or business rivalry or england with cities or community rivalry. Trinidad had more corporate or state enterprise rivalry than community. It was not port of spain vs couva or arima vs tobago. It was caroni vs shell vs tstt vs army vs police. The communities we speak of came from alma matar etc there are some exceptions with point fortin etc but I think wasa utt police have a place and it would assist with cost reducing measures utt has tech grounds that can be an excellent venue….

    • We can say Wasa, UTT, Army etc because they have grounds but beyond they aren’t set up/run/staffed as professional business entities [profit driven, marketing, youth structures] which a proper league and Club should be! If I’m a tv broadcaster….I’m not sure their presence gives me confidence for viewership outside the couple interested workers in the organization.

    • Nicholas – I think there’s a place for teams like the Army, Police, and UTT/UWI. These organizations have large followings and while they are not true community teams from a city/town perspective, they do represent a large, likeminded subset of the population. As I indicated earlier, communities/regions will have to bid to host a pro-league franchise, so ownership will be opened to everyone. Obviously, there’s be minimal standards that potential franchise owners will have to meet.

    • Carlos Lee Carlos….I agree but why not take those same followers, staff, players and let them be affiliated to areas they live? WASA is $5B in debt…its mgmt won’t sacrifice its real purpose for football, same with UTT! DF players called out to serve like in the past…what happens to scheduled tv games [delayed/postponed?] If we’re talking about a Proper League…it needs to be proper from inception!

    • And while I agree the debt of these entities would be a hindrance. If we ate talking of the present state I dont see why a company would sign a large tv deal without a guaranteed following uwi utt can provide that more than a community town for now at least keepin in mind the expenses seem high due to mismanagement.

    • I hear you. What’s your thought on having them at minimum participate in the semi-pro league?

    • You guys are right but long term I’d push…Two Leagues. 1. A National League [semipro] franchise based set up with promo/demotion to zones and 2. a strictly Amateur/Recreation League for companies, state agencies, tertiary institutes. OPen movement of players/personnel & the National League pushed to turn pro as things develop over years

  18. No wonder why ALL the Top St. Anns Rangers players leave the club… smh

  19. Wired868 yet another Look Loy article? Vomit, is he paying you guys. It is getting sickening now and blatantly biased and this site never used to be like this. I am not sure if I can read another slanted article. The Super League is a mostly amateur league how is it even practical to make a comparison? The super league is a league where teams do not have to pay players and players don’t even have to train. How can you compare that joke of a competition to a fully professional league where everyone has to train and get paid? It is obvious which one would be more difficult to run. The referees have stated loud and clear how Trinidad feels about Look Loy in our football. Just like the quality of players, leagues, coaching and administration are low, the journalism for football in Trinidad is of serious poor quality. Just as Camara David ran from the Super League after just one season, Trinidad footballers should too.

    • Lasana Liburd

      In football, the four top sport administrators are TTFA president David John-Williams and (in no particular order) Dexter Skeene (TT Pro League), Keith Look Loy (TTSL) and William Wallace (SSFL).
      In political terms, the second strongest voting bloc in local football is the TTSL.
      Now here’s an exercise for you. In our search bar, type in the names of those four administrators and count how many times each person comes up. The results would probably surprise you.
      Look Loy is by far the least represented of those four on Wired868. But don’t take my word for it, check for yourself.
      As for your view that we should ignore or censor views from the president of the largest senior football league in the country, the person at the helm of the second biggest bloc of votes in the TTFA and TTFA board member… We think to do that would be to do our readers a disservice and it would mean we are not a serious news source.
      And in this case, which you seem to have missed, it was Richard Fakoory who called out the TTSL and not the other way around.
      Thanks for your comment.

      • Lasana please, better than this, I am not new to this site, but the recent activity is what compelled me to comment. In December to now there were an astonishing 6 articles written about Mr. Look Loy, six, easily more than half of all your local club football content. No other person comes close. You must admit that recently it has been Look Loy heavy. And as a reader of your content, it has become overwhelming. You can answer however you like but there is no getting away from how heavily he has featured recently. So much so I am shocked it is the second largest voting block and not the first lol. There is a clear increasing bias on this site a bias I didn’t previously associate with your content. So much focus on the president of a largely amateur league shows where our football and our journalism is heading.

        • Lasana Liburd

          Lisa, now you are honing in one period to throw off the stats. But that would be like saying that the only soca singer Wired868 covers is “Massive” Gosein because there were a couple stories on him in a short period.
          Two important things happened at end of TTSL season. One, Keith Look Loy launched an attack on the refereeing body in which he criticised the make-up of the body. He was not the only one quoted either.
          Two, Look Loy quit as FC Santa Rosa coach–and his dual role had been often criticised.
          The stories were following one or the other issues. And every media house in the country covered both because they were newsworthy.
          Is there one of those two basic plots that you feel Wired868 should have ignored Lisa?
          Over the next week, Wired868 will be U-20 women heavy. That’s because something big will be happening involving that team.
          That’s not bias. That would just be us doing our job.

      • wow, you decided not to post my comment. I wonder why? I did not use any profanity. Everything I said was open and honest and you decided to censor. Was it because it was difficult to respond to? Where is your journalistic integrity? Censoring your readers for what sir? Sad to say this but you are no different to Jack Warner and DJW or Look Loy, unprofessional at your craft and bad for our football. This is the beautiful game that we all love, please stop killing it, I ask you, please. My husband and I do not live in Trinidad and we used to hold you to a much higher standard. My husband himself is an ex-cic student like yourself and he is utterly disappointed in your cowardice towards some constructive criticism, as a journalist that is simply unacceptable. How are you are supposed to grow if one comment ruffles your feathers? The sad sad state Trinidad and Tobago football is in. I hope you understand that you are a big part of the sport’s decline if these are your actions. You have forever lost two of your readers. Despite these comments I anticipate another Look Loy article veryyyy soon. Sad Sad professional…….

        • Lasana Liburd

          Lisa, tell your husband that Wired868 does not have the resources to have persons at the ready throughout the day to post comments as soon as they are made. And comments are not automatically approved on the site as that would be reckless and leave us open to libel charges.
          If that is all it takes for you to condemn Wired868, I can only apologise for not reaching your high standards.
          I have left comments on much better resourced sites like the UK Guardian and understand that they are not approved straightaway. But I wouldn’t want you to accuse me of making excuses.
          Best wishes for 2018.

  20. What is the money prize in these leagues, La Liga, EPL, Bundesliga?

  21. super league just completed no difference same major problem no money

  22. they killing web football with only yalk talk talk tipical caribbean manrah rah rah

  23. For the last 7 years or so during the off season several club owners, players etc go out and speak of challenges. Maybe it’s the urge to be relevant and every year the league continues. I have started only awaiting to hear the CEO speak as he quietly continues to do what needs to be done in the background for it’s survival. I do believe however that some teams need to switch leagues in the near future. Ttsl has about 4 teams that can go up and have ttpl has about 2 that can go down.

    • Narada, there is the matter of the $400-700k TTPL teams paid into the system. Wouldn’t that have to be negotiated?

    • ..No Super League club is going to depart a well organized league for the instability of the TTPL..

    • Ofcourse and it was a one time fee. Therefore I see a possibility for new clubs to be given a few years to pay it like a payment plan once all guidelines are up help. Those accepting to go down would accepted with cost but now have lower operational costs also. That is for thr league to decide but there can be dialogue

    • ..TTPL doesn’t even have a stable fixtures..

    • Yeah Narada Wilson the same Fakeoory team Mic IT-St Anns Rangers along with Central F. C. should go down and Guya and Santa Rosa F. C. should come up in the pro league with the serious problem as usual would they have the funds to survive without the real sponsors eh and it is time that the government really stop giving these teams the plenty of monies and let them do their own marketing eh since they all want to have professional teams. Them really good yes.

    • A cause for concern but not a mountain that cant be overcome. If the ttpl was to be run properly I am sure the santa rosa board would not turn down an opportunity to play at the highest level. The arguement is not the standard of foot all but its mismanagement

    • ..We turned that down in 2016 after we won the NSL. Guaya has just turned its back on that too..

    • Narada, if you had $800,000 to invest In football today. Would you use half of it to join the Pro League right now?

    • ..And it is the mismanagement that belies the designation of TTPL as “the top tier”. We need to move on. Time for change..

    • Ud get me in trouble Earl Mango Pierre but add prisons cause they have salaries or wasa and utt or qpcc cause or scholarship or stipends anf tell me it wont be competition

    • ..None of those clubs will join TTPL..

    • The seroius problem I have always said is the lack of DISCIPLINE with respect to our players that can never concentrate for 90 plus more minutes on the field of play in order to really sell the game to big sponsors and the bootleg Administrators all who is about self and not about the welfare of our players and the beautiful game hence the reason why our football is in a real mess and if they all continue with their madness our Soca Worries will never beat up Jamaica and Haiti again eh and I dun talk. Them really good yes.

    • Narada Wilson you won’t get in trouble , they need to listen to what will work and Flour mills and Airport security can also return to the leagues the same like long ago eh. Them really good yes.

    • I like the question Lasana Liburd. If its to only please myself I wont as ibwould be able to survive longer bettig small. If its to please a group and make profit as the goal I would because id need to bet larger to win larger. The question to you would be at that same cost would winning the super league with a high wage bill be better than proleague with the same providing all prizes are paid?

    • Keith Look Loy I agree they wont or dont need to atm but if things were different they would. The ttsl is providing an excellent platform but without the access to cfu champions league the ttpl would continue to be an aspiration for any club

    • ..Even if an artificial “top tier” that cannot manage its business properly stands in the way. Right? .

    • Pride seems to be one hell of a deterrent to common sense and smart business decisions.

    • I cant agree to that addition so I totally understand. The link between both leagues must be made removing all previous arrangements and if government funding continues its to both leagues maybe 35 to ttpl and 15 to ttsl. The league is responsible to give to clubs. U get promoted u have access to more u go down ur operation budget is less.

    • Narada I won’t bring out a football club banking on winning. Your star player could be injured in the first week.
      I’d see where I felt my investment was more secure and could lead to returns down the road.
      I admire your optimism. I’ve been covering this league from its inception.

    • ..Again with the government funding. A huge pot hole in my street has remained huge for six months despite my consant badgering of WASA, which claims it has bo money and we talking about state funding for football..

    • Narada what operating budget? Pro League players aren’t being paid.
      You’re talking theoretically or reality?
      There’s no reason to talk in theory about a league that is almost 20 years old. Just look at what is happening and comment on that pal.

    • Government funding isnt a problem. One has to respect the size of our country geographical lovation sporting culture etc. Us sports is 100 private. England isn’t neither canada so we have to find our model. I also remember and article where ttsl needed assistance for flight from Cal that’s state run so should it not be given.

    • ..There is not ONE country anywhere across the globe where the State does not SUPPORT Sport in some measure, particularly where the erection of stadia is concerned. However, when a league and its members rely on the State for their very EXISTENCE that is another matter. Moreso, when clubs do little to generate their independent income. Man City plays in State facility. The State does not pay monies to the EPL or City. There is a difference.

    • ..How could a league that has been existence for near two decades still have an unstable match schedule and be playing its matches all over the place in venues that bear no relationship to the teams? Count the money these clubs have spent chasing titles and consider if they could not have built their own mini-stadia..

    • …that would allow them to generate income..

    • The league didnt hold the league didnt hold clubs accountable no one really did that I agree. What I would say is there is room for a pro league but for a small country we have too many levels of football that are all separated

  24. This plan seems anti-player. What would make an “amateur Pro League” deserving of being the top tier of the local game? And would this “amateur Pro League” even have promotion and relegation? Or will it continue to exist in its own bubble?
    It looks like we are near the crossroads for the domestic game.

  25. He needs to also change is name to “Fakeoory” steeuuppss. Them really good yes.

  26. Whatever rum or ganja Mr. Fakoory is drinking or smoking he needs to really change the brand eh, so they will continue a professional league and the players won’t be getting paid eh. steeeuuppsss.Them really good yes.