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“The rope is at an end!” Central FC, Guaya Utd and Police FC among 14 clubs set for TTFA suspensions

Three-time Pro League champions, Central FC, and current Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) League One and League Two winners, Guaya United and Petit Valley/Diego Martin United (PVDMU) are among 14 clubs due to be provisionally suspended from football, after allegedly failing to meet Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) compliance regulations.

The 14 clubs from Trinidad and Tobago’s top three divisions will have their fates sealed on 21 April 2018 at the TTFA extraordinary general meeting. At that stage, their provisional suspension is likely to be made permanent with the respective teams then having until the next AGM—which is due in November 2019 at the latest—to meet the necessary requirements.

Photo: Central FC forward Johan Peltier (left) dribbles past Árabe Unido and Panama international right back Angel Patrick during CONCACAF League Round of 16 action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 3 August 2017.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/CA Images/Wired868)

Until then, none of the clubs can compete in any FIFA-recognised competition. It would be a massive blow to Central and, by extension, the Pro League as the “Couva Sharks” are still active in the Caribbean qualifying leg of the Concacaf Champions League.

The next leg of Concacaf qualifying action is scheduled for May or early June in Jamaica.

The full list of suspended clubs, according to information issued by the TTFA, comprises: Central FC, Point Fortin Civic, Police FC (Pro League), Police FC (TTSL), Guaya United, 1976 Phoenix FC, UTT, WASA FC, Siparia Spurs, Petit Valley/Diego Martin United, Central 500 Spartans, Perseverance Ball Runners, Harlem Strikers and Youth Stars.

It means that once the TTFA’s EGM accepts the suspension on 21 April—and president David John-Williams’ loyalists and opposers agreed in advance that sufficient leeway had been provided—the beleaguered Pro League competition would be left with just seven clubs for the 2018 season.

The TTSL, which was initially designed for 24 clubs split between two divisions, was hit even harder with just eight teams deemed compliant from its 19 participants last season. FC Santa Rosa, Cunupia FC, QPCC, Defence Force FC, Club Sando Moruga, Bethel United, Prisons FC and Marabella FCC were the only TTSL clubs to fulfil the necessary requirements.

Photo: Bethel United defender Makan Hislop (left) shrugs off a challenge from FC Santa Rosa attacker Rashad Griffith during TTSL One action at the Arima Velodrome on 18 June 2017.
(Courtesy Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)

However, newly promoted clubs, Beatnix, San Fernando Giants and Perseverance United FC were all declared compliant as well as returning Super League club, Matura Reunited.

Those 12 clubs—once they pay their TT$45,000 registration fees by month’s end—will compete in one division this  season along with the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team, which received special dispensation to take part.

TTSL president Keith Look Loy said the second tier competition will have to make do with that.

“As I always say, I cut my suit to fit my cloth,” Look Loy told Wired868. “If these are the compliant clubs, then we abide by the regulations of FIFA and the constitution of the TTFA; and we will play with what we have.

“It is looking like we will have one league of between 12 and 14 clubs and that is a good solid league.”

The situation might not be done and dusted, though, as several teams—including Central and Guaya—insisted that they submitted proper documentation and are dumbfounded by their pending suspensions.

Point Fortin Civic are likely to be bemused too since, in a list issued by the TTFA on 25 March, they were declared to be compliant. So how was it that they were declared non-compliant six days later?

Photo: Police FC winger Kadeem Riley (right) tussles with Point Civic right back Shevhon Abraham (centre) while his teammate Akeem Redhead looks on during First Citizens Cup action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 14 November 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

The compliance process was overseen by then TTFA Board member Sharon O’Brien and secretary Michelle Lynch.

According to the TTFA constitution, all members must have:

  • A copy of its legally valid constitution and regulations, which shall comply with the requirements of the Constitution;
  • A series of declarations stating its intention to respect FIFA, CONCACAF and TTFA regulations and directives;
  • A list of Officials, specifying those who are authorised signatories with the right to enter into legally binding agreements with third parties;
  • A copy of the minutes of its last General Meeting or constitutional meeting;
  • A copy of its audited financial statements for the previous financial year.

Several clubs offered none of the above, although, for most, the audited financial statements proved the most difficult line item.

Central FC operations director Kevin Harrison, who was surprised to hear that the Sharks were on the TTFA’s ‘naughty list’, insisted that his club did everything asked of them.

Photo: The “Central Choir”, accompanied by Central FC operations manager Kevin Harrison (centre), look on from the sidelines at the Mahaica Oval in 2015 Pro League action.
Harrison served as Sport Minister Brent Sancho’s advisor, last year.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“We submitted documents and, if that wasn’t enough, they should have gotten back to us immediately,” said Harrison, “so I am sure this is going to cause a huge bacchanal. “The last [update on] compliance was on 25 March and it said the only thing we had outstanding was our audited statement, which we submitted to them on 29 March. If there was anything still outstanding, why would they not say something to us?

“How do you know before we do? That can’t be correct. […] I am not overly worried because, as far as I am concerned, we are compliant.”

Guaya, according to Look Loy, are in a similar position where they have submitted financial documents but were still declared non-compliant. And Police FC and Petit Valley/Diego Martin United feel they have extenuating circumstances that ought to be taken into account.

“We are trying to follow up on the Guaya situation because they have submitted a financial document and I have a copy,” said Look Loy. “The Police situation (for their Pro League and Super League clubs) is that there is an audit ongoing at the Police Sports Club—which has many other sport teams—and that is slowing down their audit. So they are not done yet.

“And Petit Valley are saying they didn’t keep records in 2016 [although they were Super League members at the time and] which they are required to do as members of the TTFA. They are saying they kept none and therefore have no records to audit and they shouldn’t be held responsible.”

Photo: Petit Valley Diego Martin United playmaker Keron Cummings (centre) prepares to take on a Central 500 Spartans opponent (left) during TTSL Two action at the Diego Martin North Secondary ground on 15 July 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Harlem Strikers also hope for leniency, since they only joined the Super League in 2017 and had no obligation to keep financial records prior to that. Look Loy confirmed that he will represent the cases of Police, Guaya and Harlem at the EGM.

It appears unlikely, at this stage, that any exceptions will be granted unless the clubs in question can prove their compliance before the 31 March deadline or for exceptional circumstances.

On Monday, attention will move to the various zones and other bodies under the TTFA, who also have to become compliant in order to operate under the local football umbrella and to retain voting rights. TTFA general secretary Justin Latapy-George is expected to formally advise all members, including clubs, as to whether they are deemed compliant by then.

Only four from the TTFA’s 14 bodies—the Northern, Central and Southern Football Associations as well as the TTAYSO—were compliant as of 25 March and it is left to be seen how many of the others were able to shape up in time for 31 March.

Look Loy said the TTSL executive did everything it could to help its clubs become compliant, including sourcing auditors and holding a seminar last month, which was conducted by auditor Wahida Mohammed.

Photo: WASA FC goalkeeper Denzil Carabon (left) and defender Phillip Nelson have a scare during TTSL One action against QPCC at the WASA grounds, St Joseph on 2 July 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“We tried to educate them on what documents they needed to submit,” said Look Loy, “and it is instructive to note that three of the brand new clubs followed our advice and they are now compliant whereas older clubs are not.

“[…] We made auditing services available to them and asked one auditor to conduct a seminar in financial management and control. Clubs that did not attend that seminar are today non-compliant and clubs that did, including new clubs like San Fernando Giants, are now compliant.

“[…] I kept the pressure on them every week, asking where they are, what they have submitted and what they need and trying to help and guide them. Some took us on, some didn’t. And now they find themselves in the situation in which they find themselves today.”

Look Loy, who is also a TTFA Board member, supported the principle of compliance, which was written into the local football body’s constitution since July 2015.

“This shouldn’t be interpreted in any quarter as some kind of aggression against football,” said Look Loy. “These requirements are intended to improve football by improving the internal structuring and operations of clubs. Without strong clubs, we cannot have strong leagues and strong football; and therefore I am fully in support of membership compliance.

Photo: FIFA president Gianni Infantino struts at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva during an exhibition match on 10 April 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“[…] Anyone who is interested in developing the domestic game and making it strong, so we have strong leagues and strong national teams, must be in support of this. Change brings pain and people have to meet the requirements of change and meet the requirements of the new status quo. This is just life and this is football.

“[…] Even if FIFA didn’t require this, the TTFA constitution required it and time has run out. The rope has come to an end.”

About Lasana 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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16 comments

  1. Fight down this is why all the good players don’t reach the top u no how much good players it have on all them ream especially gusta an Diego come we need to come together an stop fighting down d youths of tomorrow plz

  2. The dirty words are “Club Licensing”. It is my understanding that TTFA is/was required by FIFA to produce its Club Licensing Regulations. I have requested this document on a number of occasions to no avail. Yhe beat goes on!

  3. I understand very well the issues involved. Better than Mr. Pierre evidently. The main issue is that clubs have to take responsibiloty for themselves and meet the requirements of FIFA and the TTFA Comstitution. Some clubs did so and others did not.

    The issue of legal registration of clubs is one that we have discussed in TTSL since formation in January 2017. Harlem’s case is legitimate. They joined the Super League in 2017 and were in regional football prior to that – under no requirement to maintain financial records. In 2016 Petit Valley WAS in Super League, however, and therefore required to do so. To argue otherwise is nonsensical. If some clubs are compliant today it is, at least in part, because of advice that I gave them, which they heeded. Witness the three NEW clubs coming into TTSL this season that have so been declared.

    In yesterday’s TTSL merting, when Ryan Ottley and his election mate from Cunupia Michael Fefour moved a motion for the TTSL representative on TTFA’s Board – me – to “fight for PV/DM and other clubs declared non-compliant” nobody supported it, with no abstentions. Why? Because the compliant clubs believe they did their work while others did not.

    I will take ip the Guaya, Police and Harlem cases. The first because they submitted their financials, the second because their submission is being delYed by bhreaucracy, the third for the reason stated above.

    The era of sitting on one’s hands and going along merrily is over. I leave the matter there for now..

  4. Petit Valley/Diego Martin United issue is one that we were not a legally registered entity in 2016 and at such it is impossible for us to prove an audited statement bc an audited statement could only be given to a legal entity. We have provided though a financial statement signed by an auditor for the period! The problem at WASA,police and UTT is that these football teams are not legally registered but are part of a bigger cultural club and as such can’t provide audited statements because they don’t exist in law. I find it passing strange that the affected clubs were not asked their side of the story!! Great journalism! !

    • It is fine that you took the chance to share. There 14 clubs and we are not going to ask them all. And ironically the TTSL president already explained the situation of their clubs.
      I spoke to representatives of the two biggest clubs. Central and Guaya.

    • Mr Look Loy today admitted in a super league meeting of getting a clearer understanding of the issues facing the clubs!! UTT,WASA and police can’t get audited financials bc they don’t exist in law!! And Petit Valley and Harlem were not legally registered entities in 2016 and as such can’t get audited financial statements bc to get that u need to be a legally registered entity!! It seems that the TTSL president does not even have a handle on the issues affecting his stakeholders who he represents at the TTFA board level!!

    • Again I repeat for anyone with a trace of intelligence to see if a club was not an legal entity in 2016 they can’t present an audited statement it is not a matter of having records!! Petit Valley/Diego Martin United have provided financial statements signed by an auditor!! It was only after I brought the issue of legal registration to Mr Look Loy attention that he understood the issue this can be collaboration by everyone in the meeting. The vote was just simple caballing out of the 8 members illegally allowed to vote bc other members and share holders were not allowed to his supporters voted 4 to 3 with one abstentions. The teams he said he will take up their battle is because they supported him in the election and he is seeking to divide and rule bc it was a revelation to those clubs at the meeting that no representation was made at the board level for them! Police are yet to complete the financial statements which will not be an Audit bc police football club does not exist in law the cultural club does that includes all other sports.Guaya is yet to get their financial statements together as we speak so to represent these clubs at board level and not Petit Valley who has a legitimate case shows clear bais by the TTSL president !! Word to the wise the TTSL will not play until Petit Valley/ Diego Martin United case is properly hear and deliberated! ! Legal injunctions and recourse in courts are nearer that Mr Look Loy thinks!! He is the President of the entire TTSL and needs to make proper representation for his stakeholders!!

    • Mr Look Loy answer shows that clearly he doesn’t understand the issue if u was not legally registered in 2016 which a number of clubs weren’t including prisons FC who have been declared compliant without an audited statement, getting audited statement it is impossible!! So if u got registered on the 1st of January 2017 u can’t get audited statements for 2016 bc for the period u were not registered!! Intellectual capacity really escapes some leaders i guess a lawyer will make it clearer massa day really has not done!!

    • Lasana Liburd who is the person you speak to from GUAYA UTD.?
      BECAUSE IF YOU ENT SPEAK TO RANDY HAGLEY YOU DID NOT SPEAK TO ANYONE

    • Randy send your number to me so I will have you on record then.

    • Great journalism!! As good as the TTSL president who refuse to make representation for teams and share holders in TTSL limited!! Bravo!! #champion.

    • Because I didn’t speak to Randy didn’t mean I didn’t speak to Guaya. I called Rigues. Good luck in getting to play football this season PVDMU. Later

    • Lasana Liburd Mr Rigues is not a member of GUAYA UTD and can’t represent us in no way.
      He has resigned his post.
      The last time we had a meeting with Mr Rigues was May 2017

    • Randy when I called Rigues he was at the super league meeting. So I will avoid the internal politics of the various teams.
      I didn’t need to speak to any individual club but I tried for response from some of the bigger teams.
      I’m happy for anyone to share info and I’m open to speaking to Guaya.

  5. Tip of the Iceberg, contradictions coming to a head under whatever guise. Now lets see what mettle football people are made of. Is this going to be the commencement of open organized struggle to once and for all LIBERATE Trinidad and Tobago Football? or is it going to be just another flash-point, unorganized and uncoordinated?. Time will tell.