FA Trophy protest
THE OUTCOME of the 2015 FA Trophy final may well be decided in the protest room. Beaten finalists Directv W Connection have lodged an official protest over the eligibility of one of the North East Stars players, Gorean Highley.
On Sunday at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Sangre Grande-based North East Stars survived 120 minutes of football when playing with a man short, before winning an exciting, but controversial final 5-4 on penalty kicks following a 0-0 draw in regulation time.
Prior to the final, W Connection had already raised the issue of Stars’ striker Highley being ineligible to play. They claimed he had been registered outside the transfer window. Connection president David John-Williams lodged an official protest on Tuesday.
Now that the protest is official, the matter has been sent to the Disciplinary Committee of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) for deliberation. The Committee chaired by Newton George, will meet next Tuesday.
“He (John-Williams) has made an official protest,” stated Neville Ferguson, the TTFA’s Director of Tournaments. “The protest came in yesterday.”
“The protest goes before the TTFA’s Disciplinary Committee for adjudication on the matter,” Ferguson continued. “He is saying the guy was registered on the 31st of March and because of that he could only play in the Reserve League of the Pro League.”
Speaking after Sunday’s final, John-Williams told local media, he had raised concerns about Highley’s participation since the semi-final stage. Highley, a popular former Arima Secondary and recent Malabar FC footballer, was signed by Stars recently, well after the close of the January transfer window.
“He (John-Williams) is saying the guy (Highley) was registered late, and he because of that, could only play in the Reserve League of the Pro League,” Ferguson said.
John-Williams vowed to pursue the matter vigourously, even if it had to reach the courts. John-Williams also went to court in 2013 against the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board concerning his W Connection Wanderers team.
“I think that is bringing the game into disrepute, and I intend to take it all the way,” John-Williams said. “When I saw his name on the team list, I went to the Director of Tournaments which is Neville Ferguson. I spoke to Sharon (O’Brien) (TTFA official) about it. I spoke to the match commissioner about it and they still allowed him to play.”
John-Williams further accused the TTFA of operating in an adhoc fashion and ignoring established international rules regarding the registration and transfer of players.
”It clearly tells me that I could go and register a player now in my reserve team as a senior, and I could play him in the Caribbean Club Championships.
That is exactly what this says, and I can’t accept something like that.” stated John-Williams, who sits on a board of CONCACAF. “I challenged the Cricket Board. I took them all the way, and now it’s the same.”
T&TFA to decide on Highley protest April 7.
T&T Guardian Reports.
Having captured its second T&T Football Association FA Trophy for only the second time in club history, Japs North East Stars must now await a ruling the association’s Disciplinary Committee on Tuesday, April 7, to know whether it will keep hold of the crown.
On Sunday, the Sangre Grande-based North East Stars under the guidance of coach Angus Eve got the better of title-holder W Connection, 5–4 on penalty-kicks after a 0–0 draw at the end of regulation time and 30-minutes extra-time at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, despite playing most of the match with ten men following the first-half dismissal of Jayson Joseph.
The win added to the Darryl Mahabir-owned club, first triumph in 2003, also over W Connectionm, champions in 1999, 2000 & 2002, and 2013/2014.
However, prior to the final W Connection owner/president David John-Williams stated his club was going to lodge a protest to the T&TFA against Stars for the use of Gorean “Ratty” Highley.
John-Williams said the basis of his team’s process was that Highely, a former W Connection player, was signed outside of the January transfer window to play in the Reserve League of the Pro League only, and not as part of the club’s first team.
But in response, Sharon O’Brien, of the TTFA, noted that Highley, who was formerly of Malabar FC, although unable to play for the first team in the Digicel T&T Pro League, was free to represent North East Stars in FA competition, which doesn’t fall within the Pro League jurisdiction.