Brent Sancho, owner of former TT Pro League winners Central FC, is lamenting the financial woes facing the club as it prepares to compete at the 2018 CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championships.
Central FC, who finished a lowly ninth in the 10-team points standings in the 2017 TT Pro League, has endured a miserable year, with coach Stern John in charge of a team that was a pale imitation of the one that captured three straight Pro League crowns (2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17).
At the CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championships, Central FC were drawn in Group B, where it would tackle hosts Atlantico FC (Dominican Republic), Portmore United (Jamaica) and Racing FC (Haiti).
In a telephone interview on Thursday, Sancho said, “First of all, we don’t even know how we’re getting there. It’s been tough, with the financial situation that the clubs have had during the Pro League. That hasn’t changed.”
The former national football team defender and ex-sports minister pointed out that the club is still owed prize money for its title success.
He noted, “We’re still hoping to have some sort of respite from the Sports Company.”
Sancho acknowledged it will be difficult for the team to prepare, and even travel, to the Dominican Republic for this competition. “For us, as a club, we are basically putting out a public plea for corporate support, or even government support, in some way or fashion where we can at least get these young men out there to represent the country,” he said.
With regard to assistance from CONCACAF, Sancho said, “You do get some sort of money from them, but it’s never enough to cover the flights, that’s for sure. But then there is preparation for the tournament, so we’ll have to start to train.
“ We have to try and figure out a way to pay up some of the players and find monies for all the different things to get yourself there, to prepare yourself for the tournament. That is a struggle.”
Central FC used a number of on-loan players for the 2017 CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championships.
“We’re fortunate to have good affiliations in Belgium,”said Sancho. “We’ve just formed one with clubs in the US as well, (but) even that is a cost. You have to get those boys here and we have to accommodate them. I don’t see where the funds are coming from to do that, not when a club is owed almost $2 million. It’s almost impossible.
“That’s a massive hole to fill, so you’re always playing catch-up. Even trying to do those things, as much as it helps, is still a challenge.”
Concerning any feedback from the Pro League, Sancho said, “Remember, we were promised back in April that the Pro League subventions would continue over the entire season. Leading up to here now, this month being December, there is still no word.
“We don’t know anything that’s happening. I don’t know if it will happen in January. It’s really crucial times for the league and, obviously, with the challenges that we face.”