“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:
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?
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.
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.
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.”