CUNUPIA FC were awarded the 2016 National Super League Championship title yesterday, ending a couple days of uncertainty as to whether Cunupia FC or the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) were the official winners.
On Saturday night, the Super League, through its director of operations Richard Piper, issued their regular email containing results of matches earlier in the day, as well as a note stating “special congratulations to UTT on their first Championship Division title”.
A local daily newspaper went as far as to report that UTT were the champions, though a story in yesterday’s Newsday indicated that there was some conjecture as to who were the 2016 winners.
Both Cunupia and UTT finished with 32 points from 16 games, but UTT had a superior goal difference of plus-24, compared to Cunupia’s plus-16.
However, it was revealed that a rule book, which was presented to all teams in 2015, stressed that the head-to-head rule would be used to separate teams who shared the same points, at the end of the season.
Yesterday, in a media release issued by Anthony Harford, owner of All Sport Promotions (the organising body for the League), it was revealed that “the technical director (Wayne Caesar) declared officially, Cunupia Football Club as the winners of the 2016 NSL Championship Division.
“There was some confusion over the weekend when a release on the final round of matches congratulated UTT on becoming champions, but this was not verified by the technical director at that time,” the media release continued.
“The clubs and then technical director (Douglas James) agreed on the change from 2005 giving as the second tie-breaker, head to head (meaning results of the games between the two teams tied at the end of the league).
Goal difference has been the fifth tie-breaker since then.
There has been no revision of the regulations since 2005 nor has the NSL been required to use the tie-break system. These regulations are contained in article 17 of the TT FA National Super League rules and regulations.” However, “the management of the NSL congratulates Cunupia FC and apologises unreservedly to UTT for frustrating their hopes of a first league title.” Cunupia FC coach Michael De Four, in a telephone interview, said, “it is wonderful to be a champion, you can ask (Dwayne) Bravo what that means.” He continued, “it was a lot of hard work, and it came about with the staff of Roland Clarke, David Wiltshire, David Ceballo, Nicole Fletcher and the president Navin Charles.
The players gave the best they could have given under the circumstance and it is really a joy to be made champions.
“Cunupia (were) the only team that beat every club in the League (in 2016),” De Four stressed.
“That is performance.” UTT official Nicholas Lochan was disappointed, yet graceful in defeat with regards to yesterday’s outcome. “It was unfortunate that it went down to head-to-head.
We had a superior goal difference but we also lost less games than Cunupia. In all fairness to Cunupia, they were one of the best teams in the League. They were consistent right through.
“I’m happy for them. I’m just disappointed that UTT put in a lot of effort to win the League and sometimes it just don’t work out for various reasons,” Lochan acknowledged.