The real source of the US$2 million windfall for Pro League and TTSL; plus what clubs stand to make

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams announced a US$2 (TT$13.5) million cash injection for the local Pro League and Super League competitions on Monday morning, in what is likely to be the last major initiative of his four year term.

But there is a catch. Roughly half of the money was already promised to the Pro League—as the figure includes the TT$6.3 million that the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago vowed to hand over to the local top flight competition in 2019 and 2020.

Photo: W Connection captain Hughtun Hector (centre) lifts the TTFA FA Trophy after their 3-1 win over Police FC at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 8 December 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

And much of the remainder will come from the local football body’s annual allotment of US$1.5 million (TT$10.1 million) from FIFA and US$175,000 (TT$1.2 million) from Concacaf.

“The Sport Company has already committed funding for three years [to the Pro League and] there are two years that are remaining,” said One Concacaf and Caribbean Projects senior manager Howard McIntosh. “And our proposal that is on the table is that the TTFA—through the FIFA Forward Programme—use a portion of those monies specifically dedicated to projects, to support professional football.

“In addition to that, the TTFA will look at the support it receives from Concacaf as well to assign funds [to the Pro League]. So the total amount of funds is approximately US$2 million over the period of the two years.

“The general idea is to use that period to put in place a solid foundation to ensure the stability of professional football in Trinidad and Tobago.”

McIntosh and John-Williams shared the head table at the Hyatt Regency hotel with the UEFA trio of international relations head Eva Pasquier, football operations specialist Robert Pongracz and international relations project specialist Chris Milnes.

But, as Pasquier stressed, UEFA was not here to give money—only advice and expertise.

Photo: Prisons FC winger Nathan Julien (right) tussles with FC Santa Rosa full back Sheldon Nesbitt during TTSL Cup action at the Arima Velodrome on 8 September 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

It added up to a bold final roll of the dice by John-Williams, who is up for re-election in November. Thus far, the football president’s sole self-declared achievement is the construction of the TTFA’s Home of Football in Couva, which is plagued by rumours of conflict of interest and non-transparent use of funds—whispers that he refused to put to bed by opening the accounting books for the project to board scrutiny.

At least there was a greater show of transparency yesterday. Whether there was less self-interest is debatable.

John-Williams, after all, is the owner of Pro League outfit, W Connection, which stand to benefit—along with the other top flight and second tier clubs—from the diversion of FIFA and Concacaf money into the top two local competitions.

Whether the TTFA’s six cash-strapped zonal bodies, for instance, can be won over—as well as the football body’s many creditors, including past and present coaches and technical directors—is another story.

The Pro League and Super League are the two biggest stakeholders under the TTFA’s umbrella with 10 and eight delegates respectively. However, combined, they account for just 28 of the football body’s 48 voting members.

Remarkably, the entire plan to so use TTFA finances was hatched, discussed and unveiled to the media without any input from the body mandated to run the local game, which is the football body’s board of directors.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (left) shares the stage with board members Julia Baptiste (centre) and Keith Look Loy at the presentation of FIFA refereeing badges to local officials on 23 January 2019.
(Copyright TTFA Media)

Wired868 understands that the UEFA and Concacaf delegates were already holding meetings in Trinidad before any attempt was made to sit with the TTFA board. Nearly half of the directors snubbed the belated overtures as a result.

“The lack of proper protocol was glaring,” said TTSL president Keith Look Loy. “The UEFA/Concacaf delegation entered TTFA and held several meetings before it attempted to meet members of the board—in two groups. That failed because ninety percent of the board members refused to attend or were out of the country.

“I voiced my objection to all of this when they met the Super League on Saturday. I made the point that the TTFA board has no institutional knowledge of the mission [of the visitors] or its objective.

“They accepted that criticism and assured all that a final report and proposal would be submitted to the TTFA board.”

McIntosh admitted the lapse.

“The TTFA is in charge of protocol and should have done better; but we are working [on that],” McIntosh told Wired868. “Keith raised this point with me. The board should always be informed… The communication must be improved.”

McIntosh and Pasquier stressed that they were genuinely enthusiastic about the project, though. And although neither Concacaf nor UEFA dipped into their own wallets to help bankroll the respective leagues, the proposal hammered out after four days of meetings was an appealing one.

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)

Last year, the Sport Company distributed TT$4.8 million to the Pro League, which was shared between eight clubs that pocketed TT$600,000 each. At the end of the season, four teams had not even paid their TT$130,000 registration fee to offset the Pro League’s administrative cost and to pay for referees.

The TTFA’s foreign guests proposed a more progressive split of money for 2019, which sees all 10 Pro League clubs—inclusive of Defence Force and Police FC—collect US$50,000  (TT$338,000) for the year and US$10,000 (TT$67,000) each for the 12 TTSL teams for that same period. The combined guaranteed payout to clubs in both divisions is US$620,000 (TT$4.2 million).

Ultimately, the two leagues will determine how many clubs get to feed from the trough; and the Pro League generally denies subventions to Defence Force and Police on the grounds that they already enjoy state funding.

“We have not decided yet [the number of teams in the Pro League],” said Pongracz, “because the more teams you play, the more you have to share and the less a club gets. So you have to decide.”

There will also be performance-based incentives. The top five Pro League clubs will bank US$50,000 (TT$338,000), US$40,000 (TT$271,000), US$30,000 ($203,000), US$10,000 (TT$67,000) and US$5,000 (TT$34,000) respectively.

In the TTSL, the top six teams stand to pocket prize money of US$20,000 (TT$135,000), US$15,000 (TT$101,000), US$10,000 (TT$67,000), US$5,000 (TT$34,000), US$3,000 (TT$20,000) and US$2,000 (TT$13,000) respectively.

Photo: FC Santa Rosa coach Derek King (centre) celebrates with his players after they clinch the TTSL title at the Larry Gomes Stadium on 2 December 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

The combined prize money for both competitions is US$380,000 (US$2.6 million), which, added to the guaranteed payments of US$620,000 (TT$4.2 million), creates an even US$1 million (TT$6.8 million). The format will be repeated in 2020 when another US$1 million would be spent.

Clubs will no longer be required to pay a registration fee—which should simplify the introduction of a promotion and relegation between the two competitions—and the suggestion is both competitions should be run by a centralised body under the TTFA, which will add a marketing manager and sponsorship manager to its staff.

McIntosh suggested that improving the commercial arm of the local football competitions—and teams too, through the FIFA’s club licensing programme—should bear long term fruit.

“Even if you go back [to the government for support in the future], you don’t go back for as much,” said McIntosh.

Look Loy was impressed too, although he expressed concern about the competitions being run by the TTFA. In four years under John-Williams, the local body has not even activated a single standing committee: be it disciplinary, finance, marketing or otherwise.

The TTSL never received the full US$125,000 (US$845,000) promised in 2017 and Look Loy does not look forward to having to chase the TTFA for promised money this year.

Photo: Guaya United forward Carlon “Judgment” Hughes (left) tries to evade QPCC defender Leslie Joel Russell during TTSL action in Guayaguayare on 5 August 2018.
(Copyright Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)

“This intervention by UEFA/Concacaf could be a good boost to our club football if properly managed,” said Look Loy. “The mechanisms of league governance and distribution and control of the finance are central to that and must suit our reality.

“What it should not be is a ‘buy out’ of our club football in order to return it to the grossly incapable hands of the TTFA, which lacks transparency and was left behind twenty years ago by both the TTPL and the Super League (NSL and TTSL).

“Ultimately, I expect the TTFA board will have to approve all of this, and the UEFA/Concacaf delegates on this mission have assured us of that.”

McIntosh and Pasquier stressed that the final decisions lie with local football stakeholders.

“I repeat, emphasise, [this is a] proposal,” said McIntosh. “We did not come here to dictate or implement or tell anybody they are obligated to accept anything that we have presented.”

McIntosh, a Jamaican, was not shy to suggest that the initiative was an attempt to return the feel-good factor to Trinidad and Tobago’s football.

Photo: Concacaf official Howard McIntosh (centre) makes a point while TTFA president David John-Williams looks on during a press conference at the Hyatt hotel on 28 January 2019.
(Copyright Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)

“Trinidad and Tobago [football] finds itself in a very fortunate position,” said the Concacaf official. “You have the best football infrastructure in the region. You have easily one of—if not the most supportive—government in the region, in relation to football development and contribution to the game. You have significant support from the parent bodies in football: Fifa, Concacaf, UEFA and the CFU.

“[…] You have an overly passionate president that sometimes wears his passion on his sleeve which causes its own issues, sometimes…”

I95.5Fm reporter Tony Lee, whose company continues to benefit from a secret contract from the football president, tried to wring a more effusive soundbite from McIntosh on John-Williams.

“You have spent the last week observing the operations of football in Trinidad and Tobago, how do you rate the standard of football in Trinidad and Tobago?” asked Lee. “And are you pleased with the governing body of Trinidad and Tobago?”

McIntosh took a long deliberate pause before responding.

“Well, there’s a whole lot of work to be done; a whole lot of work to be done,” he said. “On behalf of the TTFA: lots of passionate people, dedicated, committed, strong president; but needs improvement and structures, needs improvement in terms of management of certain areas.

Photo: TTFA Referees Department head Wayne Caesar (far left), president David John-Williams (third from left) and Referees Association president Joseph Taylor (far right) oversee the presentation of FIFA badges to local referees.
The officials are (from left) Caleb Wales, Crystal Sobers, Joseph Bertrand and Ainsley Rochard.
Missing are Cecile Hinds and Carissa Douglas Jacob.
(Copyright TTFA Media)

“[…] Are there challenges? Absolutely. Are there major challenges? Yes. But as Eva mentioned earlier, where the TTFA finds itself in terms of its basic level of infrastructure in terms of technical centre, head office, home of football, you have an opportunity now with some tweaking and hard work to take immediate advantage.

“[…] We are very optimistic but it is going to take a lot of work and, to be fair to the president, I think he has been very open to the criticisms levelled and the recommendations made and has an understanding of what is required.”

John-Williams was not especially surefooted on Monday morning, either.

“I will introduce to my immediate right—he is no stranger to Trinidad and Tobago—Mr Howard McIntosh from Concacaf,” said John-Williams, as he opened the press conference.

It was then pointed out to the TTFA president that he was, in fact, seated at the extreme right of the head table and everyone else—including McIntosh—was to his left.

“I will only use the first names of the other two gentlemen (Robert and Chris),” John-Williams continued, “out of fear of not pronouncing their names properly…”

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (right) makes a point to UEFA officials Chris Milnes (centre) and Kenny MacLeod at the Home of Football on 23 January 2019.
(Copyright TTFA Media)

It is uncertain whether Pongracz (pronounced ‘Pon-grass’) and Milnes (not an uncommon name in Trinidad) were pleased with the fact that, after four days, the TTFA president had not bothered to learn how to pronounce their surnames.

Wired868 took the opportunity to ask John-Williams about the lack of transparency related to the Home of Football; and technical director Anton Corneal’s decision to down tools due to unpaid salaries—two issues he has studiously avoided in recent months.

Wired868: Can the football president tell us how those two issues will be dealt with?

John-Williams: Lasana, you will just have to wait and see. Okay? There is a plan in place and when there is a conversation and information on that, it will be made available.

Wired868: So the technical director has said that he has walked off the job and you’re saying we should just wait and see what happens?

John-Williams: That matter is being addressed and when that issue has been resolved, we will address it.

Wired868: And similarly what about that information [on the Home of Football] requested by board member Keith Look Loy?

Photo: TTFA technical director Anton Corneal.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/CA-Images/Wired868)

John-Williams: I am sure that information requested has been presented to the general meeting; and the general meeting was very happy with the information received… Those issues have been presented to the general membership.

The TTFA president’s claim that the general membership were satisfied with the information provided on the Home of Football flew in the face of letters by several board members and stakeholders in support of Look Loy’s petition. But it was all he was prepared to say.

McIntosh tried to break the ice.

“I think we agree that football has been through a tremendous amount of turmoil in the last few years,” said the Concacaf official. “But the conversation has changed at the FIFA level, the conversation has changed at the Concacaf level; now we are talking about football.

“We want similar things to occur here in Trinidad and Tobago; a change in the conversation away from people and personality and more focus on the football.”

For now, the talk is likely to revolve around financial figures as stakeholders discuss the money proposed for the Pro League and TTSL and what it might mean for local football’s other projects and creditors.

Curiously, when asked to give more information on the funding available for the management of the Home of Football, Pasquier pointed to the FIFA grants of US$1 million for operating expenses and US$500,000 for capital projects.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (left) is assisted by Camara David (second from left) during a presentation to a swim club at the Home of Football.
(Copyright TTFA Media)

Did that mean that John-Williams might have used money meant for the day to day operation of local football for the construction of the Home of Football? And, worse, without even disclosing to his board the contractors used and financial decisions made for the project?

And, if the Home of Football was built using funds that might have gone elsewhere, what did that mean for his claims that its construction did not impact on the finances of the cash-strapped local football body?

It is unlikely that all stakeholders would be prepared to avert their gaze from the controversial TTFA president until such questions are answered conclusively.

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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at 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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  1. Recycled administrators ,no one new, only yes men , many with no administrative experience .
    New plans same crew,same results.

  2. Well as you know the fearless one always doing his own thing without investigating and being misled by the corrupted TTFA Them really good yes

  3. ..The biggest donor is SPORTT but this is flying completely under the radar..

  4. Listen, if UEFA said quite clearly: we are not donating ANY money…
    Why do some local media houses keep lazily suggesting that this is a UEFA funded project?
    So disappointing when the public is misled like that.

  5. And while all these recommendations are being made in order for our football to return where it once was , they need to finally fixed the Morvant Caledona field in Morvant so that the team can make plenty monies by the gate because I saw it with my own eyes when I visited there about two year ago to watch a game there was about 3000 fans or more and the poor people in the areas was also selling their foods to make some monies and also the school football can also play there the same and they better not forget to put up the stadium lights the same like what they have in the stadiums and in the Eddie Hart grounds eh Them really good yes

  6. Yeah, why should the schools not be involved in the right royal stuff up too. Might as well throw those young athletes under the TTFA bus too. Show the kids what arrogance personified looks like.

    • I’m not sure I understand your point. What royal stuff up? I also believe that SSFL is fairly unique as most national school leagues are overseen by the football association, not Ministry of Education. But I do believe that school football should come fully under the TTFA so that there can be greater synchronicity between club and school football.

  7. Public Service Announcement like

  8. To be honest, I think the inclusion of TTFA at the press conference has, as usual, turned the focus away from the subject matter. Make no mistake, DJW has been the prime mover in gaining uefa cooperation. However, this whole program is strictly about league structure and development. It was not focused on women’s football or other areas under the TTFA umbrella. It is essential for T&T football, and by extension, Concacaf, to have a professional league structure in order for T&T to remain in the top tier of nations in the region. This effects the level of funding received as well as entry levels of competitions. It is in everyone’s interests, including women, that the new structure succeeds. An independent multi tier league structure will bring back a degree of interest from fans. With full time marketing personnel, and live TV, it is hoped that even greater interest will be gained. A working committee is now producing recommendations for TTPL and TTSL clubs to consider, so we won’t know the details for a week or two. Also there are the discussions of how to include zones and schools.

  9. ..That is the challenge. To use these two years to try to build something..

  10. The dictator in all his glory…

  11. Seems like a band aid. What happens after the first few years? How do they plan to boost attendances?

  12. To refer to anything related to men’s football in this country – a country that came decisively last in the hex – as elite is oxymoronic.
    And anyone excited about cash injection that completely ignores women’s football after all the well documented biases that the women have faced is simply showing their true colours.

    • Chabeth Haynes 6th does not qualify us for the WC but 6th in a 41 member Concacaf with membership that includes all of North America, Central America and 3 members from South America is not bottom draw. I like you prefer top 4

    • If the qualifying system was different – say, all 41 countries play each other, I don’t know that we would be 6th.
      And there are countries from South America and Europe for example that don’t qualify for the WC whose national leagues I would more readily refer to as “elite.” So it isn’t just about qualifying for WC, it’s about where you are in relation to everybody else.
      When our top club teams play other top club teams from CONCACAF, what happens?
      But my bigger problem is the applause coming from some for this funding that is being used in an unashamedly discriminatory way.

    • Guys, what are your views on the football organizational structure that is being proposed?

    • Chabeth Haynes its par for the course with TTFA. Correct me if im wrong Lasana Liburd but doesnt FIFA give funding specifically for Women’s program. or at least mandates that funds received go towards women’s programs?

    • Nwadike true. Does it ever get there? That’s another story.

  13. SELL OUT! This is a cheap and nasty sell out manipulating sources of funding including government subventions to engage Disastrous JW to survive another term. Pro-League teams need a budget of $100-125k pcm to maintain a decent operation including youth development and women. $USD 100k over 2 years is miles away and inevitably will again throw top flight football under the bus for the singular objective to cover Disastrous.

    NO FINANCIALS in 18 months, NO HOME OF FOOTBALL FINANCIALS OR CONTRACTS, NATIONAL FOOTBALL AT ALL LEVELS SUFFERING, T&T YOUTHS TAKING THE BRUNT…. mirrors and smoke screens, be careful and recognize the incompetence of the individual behind this HEIST!

  14. ….The money is not being contributed only by UEFA but also CONCACAF. Importantly, the government (SPORTT) is also contributing heavily. The project does not include women or youth. It is geared towards elite club football. This is a promising project that, if properly implemented and managed, could breathe new life into TTPL and give greater impetus to TTSL. But club football must not return to TTFA control, in my opinion. The Association has amply demonstrated its inability to run it over many decades, and should not be involved, in any event. Across the globe not one major league is controlled by the FA. Let the Association stick to its core responsibilities – national teams, education, development programmes,etc. And let both TTPL and TTSL MANAGE the monies PROPERLY and ACCOUNT to financiers for same..

  15. Hope the report is shared with the public. The UEFA staff based on their titles and absence of money appear to be more public relations than technical and financial so I will be cautious about advice. However, the skeleton of the financial model for Pro League and TTSL to facilitate promotion and relegation on the service seems promising. Though, the skin appears that it will be cut from youth and women’s football.

  16. mommy:
    Today’s breakfast, lunch and dinner was brought to you by our kind sponsor, Daddy…

  17. The pro league is it not a runned outside the purview of the ttfa ? But i think due to the voices against the present administration good sense will not prevail for the good of football so the people in charge of pro league expectations should not be great … However our pro league should be on such a level by now that international players should run here .. By now we should. Of developed a womens pro league and be the mecca of football in this part of the world … But again like all other sport it’s always because if poor management … You all should see basket ball in this country … I am involved because of my children sport of choice …

  18. $6.3 million of the people taxpayer dollars for that pile of nonsense we call a Pro League? Jesus Christ …

    • Some brilliant young athletes with heaps of potential if administrators could get their shit together.

    • They won’t. Too many egos. Too many personal agendas. Too much corruption. A fool of a president devoid of desire to do anything meaningful except perhaps line his own pockets. TT Football is doomed unless people are willing to make a change.

      In the interim, I only hope that the private academies continue instilling the discipline and technical ability in players at a young age that is required for them to be successful as professional players one day. I may never see TT Football on the world stage again, but hope I am lucky enough to see a Trini represent us at the highest level of professional football again eventually.

    • Earl Mango Pierre I agree with what you say but I don’t think the young athletes should be referred to as the Soca Worries when they are not given the coaching and support they need to succeed. ☹️. I think they are true Warriors for putting up with the ‘Old Guys Crap’

    • Well Jo Ann until they are given the Coaching and support that they need , they will always be Soca Worries or bootleg players because just look at the leagues that they are playing in, many of them are playing in the USL ,how many in the MLS not one is representing in the EPL anymore , none in Scotland first division, only in some other lower leagues somewhere behind Father God back in Europe , is any of them in Central and South America and my last queston is how many of them last playing for their professional teams abroad before being sold to another team or even returned to our sweet country back in our bootleg professional league eh, so let all the bootleg coaches continue and not getting their acts together in our sweet country. Them really good yes

    • And last but not least, they aren’t playing enough football, gone are the days of plenty minor league football in our communities like back in the days in my times where we use to have plenty crowd support especially the girls eh lol these nowadays players have other interest even putting down robberies and involved in other madness in order to make ends meet eh perfect example now that the pro league is on a break are they still being paid so I am wondering how many of them surviving until the league resumes again eh Them really good yes

    • Yeah. But you ain’t helping them pull the chicks ? by calling them the Soca Worries lol. Give the guys a break. ?

    • Dominic Lau we are working behind the scenes bro…

    • Ok Jo Ann I will stop hurting their feelings by always pounding them Them really good yes lol

    • Earl Mango Pierre Don’t stop. We have to continue to expose them. Them really good yes

  19. Many moons ago I asked this question who were the names registered under the ex corrupted TTFF and who are the names registered under the present corrupted TTFA and I have yet to get an answer ,time to investigate Mr Live Wire Them really good yes

  20. Information is still on a ‘need to know’ basis and anyone other than DJW obviously doesn’t need to know? Arrogant, disrespectful. If all is above board no need for secrecy. Anyone who is passionate about football would show more respect for the athletes.
    Is there a TTFA treasurer?

  21. Just words , asking people to do things they know supposed to be done but never did .
    ” Strategic Plan ”
    Asking the inmates to make rules for the prison.

  22. Because it seems that there no more women’s program Them really good yes

  23. The women’s game wasn’t even part of the discussion?

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