Near a dozen football clubs were able to breathe a sigh of relief yesterday evening, as Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) members voted to extend deadlines for compliance—in a move that is expected to see them all retain their status within the local football body.
At the TTFA’s AGM on 31 March 2017, the membership instructed the Board to provisionally suspend all non-compliant clubs and to submit the final list to yesterday’s Emergency General Meeting for final determination.
FIFA mandated that top-tier clubs in all its member associations should become compliant in a bid to strengthen their respective organisations and, as a result, their domestic games.
After the determination of the TTFA’s Compliance Committee, general secretary Justin Latapy-George declared that: Pro League clubs Central FC, Point Fortin Civic and Police FC and Trinidad and Tobago Super League teams (TTSL) Police FC, 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 were all non-compliant.
So too were WOLF (Women’s League Of Football), Eastern Counties Football Union and Futsal.
TTSL president Keith Look Loy followed the law to the letter and immediately began plans to proceed without the affected clubs—although he revealed that, owing to extenuating circumstances, he would make special appeals for Police FC, Guaya United, UTT, Petit Valley/Diego Martin United and Harlem Strikers,
But, in the end, the TTFA’s members balked at the idea of casting out football clubs.
Once more, Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTFRA) vice-president and former St Augustine Secondary principal Osmond Downer set the tone for the floor.
“As I pointed out, first of all—in the very first article of the Constitution—the objective of the TTFA is to encourage people to participate and take part in the game of football; not to throw people out of football,” Downer told Wired868. “Yes, the Board was directed at the last general meeting to suspend these people provisionally and to recommend to the general meeting that they be expelled… But that is the operative word: recommend.
“The Board cannot tell or direct the general meeting to do anything… The part of the Constitution dealing with the dismissal of a member said the Board may dismiss amember—‘may,’ not ‘shall.’
“So we have the discretion.”
So, rather than use the 31 March 2017 date as a line in the sand, the TTFA’s membership instead dealt with each club and body on a case-by-case basis.
In the end, only Real Maracas and Saddle Hill were left out after being declared defunct while the others were given up to a month to complete the process of their compliance with a new deadline of 31 December 2018—three years after FIFA requested that all members be compliant by October 2015.
An exception was made for the State-affiliated teams such as Police FC, Defence Force, WASA and UTT, who were given six months to create outfits that were independent of their respective organisations and, therefore, better able to fulfil the TTFA’s requirements. Prisons FC have already formed their own football club, outside the umbrella of the Prisons Sports Club group.
In another notable move, the Football Players Association (FPATT) and Coaches Association were also expelled, after being deemed inactive, which brings the TTFA’s list of delegates down from 49 to 47.
“The Players and Coaches Associations were expelled,” said Downer, “because they took part in nothing, they don’t attend any meetings, they don’t exist. So their names were removed from our membership.”
The TTFA members also agreed to a special task force to look at and potentially assist the Eastern Counties FU, which is non-compliant and the only zone without an annual competition, as well as the Primary Schools Association, which does not involve itself in any business of the football body outside of elections.
Downer described the EGM as “successful.”
Look Loy, who, two weeks ago, said “the rope was at an end” for non-compliant clubs, agreed with Downer’s verdict and described yesterday’s meeting as a triumph for common sense.
“Nobody wants to expel a member from football and that was generally avoided today except for those members that do not function,” said the TTSL president. “In the end, common sense prevailed and football won. Those members that submitted financial statements after the deadline were not expelled because expulsion is a death sentence and we want football to live and grow.
“[…] So the professionalisation of our domestic game is under way. This is a good thing.”
Editor’s Note: The TTFA’s next EGM is scheduled for May and should feature detailed financial reports from president David John-Williams on reports on a range of issues, including Home of Football construction, coaches’ salaries, an updated list of creditors and a secret financial deal between the football body and i95.5FM.