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Look-Loy looks to take TTSL to new heights.

Since his resignation as TTFF Technical Adviser and Chairman of the TTFF Technical Committee back in 2011, Keith Look Loy has been itching to get back into the local football circuit at national level and have now resurfaced yearning to make his mark once again, this time, at a different capacity.

Look-Loy was hired by former Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) Adviser Jack Warner as a Youth Development Officer for the TTFF from 1993-1999. Second time around, former TTFF General Secretary Richard Groden called on Look-Loy's services again and named him the TTFF's Technical Adviser, a position he held from 2008 to 2011.

Look-Loy is currently the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) interim president and is also the founder, coach and President of FC Santa Rosa, a Club that participated in the National Super League (NSL) since its establishment in 2012. Recently, he guided them to their first-ever historic Super League Premiership title last season.

The former Arima Boys’ RC School, St. Mary’s College and Howard University player and student also played football for local outfit Fulham SC in 1972 and Arima Football League in the Hayward Shield against all the other leagues and top players. He represented Trinidad and Tobago at the Under-20 level in which he was named captain of the national side in 1971 and 1972 before migrating to the U.S. to take up a scholarship with Howard.

He returned home and coached the national U-17 (1996), U-20 (1994-1998) and U-21 (1994) men's teams. A former member of FIFA’s Football Committee, Technical Study Group (TSG), CONCACAF’s TSG, FIFA and CONCACAF instructor carries a wealth of experience and is hoping he can transform his proficiency into the new proposed TTSL, but there is still one last hurdle standing in his way. The TTSL was launched on the 13th of December 2016 and is still awaiting approval from the governing body (TTFA) to fully commence..

Here is a little Q&A with the revitalised TTSL interim president.

1.Why are you re-branding the current Super League. Wouldn't it had been easier to just take control of the current one and just improve on it. Or, even better yet, run for CEO of the Pro League.
KLL: On the prompting of Anthony Harford and his company, All Sport Promotions Limited (ASP), the TTFA created the National Super League in 2002. This was not a properly constituted league but a competition, like the FA Cup. ASP ran this competition under a franchise purchased from TTFA. This arrangement between TTFA and ASP expired on 31 December 2016. The clubs of the NSL thought it an opportune moment to create a properly constituted league in which to continue playing.

On 13 December, thirteen (13) NSL clubs, keeping the established Super League brand, agreed to form the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) and adopted a constitution. TTSL applied for TTFA membership on 8 January 2017. Our numbers have since increased to twenty-two (22) clubs – all of the clubs that constituted the 2016 NSL.

A few days later, on 13 January 2017, TTSL established a limited liability company (Trinidad and Tobago Super League Limited) to run its commercial affairs. Each TTSL member holds an equal share in the company. In the League’s Founding Agreement we establish a profit-sharing formula that equitably distributes profit among the clubs, based on membership and place in the final season standings.

I have no interest in football office. However at the founding meeting of 13 December 2016 the clubs unanimously asked me to be the League’s interim President. I accepted the position out of a sense of responsibility to my own club, FC Santa Rosa, to other member clubs and to Trinidad and Tobago football. I had/have no interest in being CEO of the TT Pro League.   

2. How do you plan to sustain the league financially.
KLL: Debt and dependency are the DNA of Trinidad and Tobago football. I have insisted, as interim President, that TTSL must not be born in debt and must not seek to be a ward of the State; that TTSL must become financially viable and sustainable. This vision for the League must also be the vision for the member clubs.

That said, modern football clubs depend on several income streams to survive: 1) gate receipts, 2) merchandising, 3) sponsorship, 4) player transfers, and 5) broadcast rights. The first three of these are impossible to create without supporters. This is the strength of the TT Super League club. It is an organic product of a community. Just look at names of our clubs – Palo Seco, Bethel, Matura, Guaya, Marabella, Maracas, Santa Rosa, Cunupia, Barrackpore. I could go on. The community roots of our clubs allow the possibility of generating club income from gate receipts, merchandising and sponsorship, whether local  or national companies.

The TTSL is also involved in talks with a major international broadcaster for sponsorship and broadcast rights. And further beyond that, we expect to close a deal soon with a global brand to provide equipment to our clubs under a sole supplier agreement.     

3. Will the league be considered a Semi-Pro League.
KLL: The fact is that most clubs in TTSL already provide compensation to players in some form or fashion. Indeed, there are players in TTSL who would not be temped by a TT Pro League contract because of their arrangement with a TTSL club. Some clubs compensate players with cash. Others by way of employment. Either way, the TTSL is already a “non-amateur” league. Now we must regularize the status of, and offer protection to, players who are paid by introducing a standard player contract.

4. Will the players and staff be getting paid? A salary cap in other words.
KLL: There will not be a salary cap. Financial arrangements, at least for the foreseeable future, will remain a business between club and player. I would also like to touch on the League Secretary Camara David. He is a bright and well educated young man (FIFA/CIES Masters Degree in Sports Management) and hails from Couva.

5. Will we finally see a promotion and regulation within the league system throughout T&T.
KLL: TTSL is profoundly committed to the eternal football principle of promotion and relegation. This is the democracy of sport and football. A place in TTSL will be earned on merit and not be bought with cash. In our Founding Agreement TTSL clubs collectively committed to an organic connection to Regional Association football - by way of relegation of clubs from TTSL and promotion of clubs from TTFA’s Champion of Champions tournament for Regional Association champions. The issue, however, has always been to ensure a connection to the TT Pro League, which is a closed league, made so by their excessive four hundred thousand dollar (TTD $400.000) registration fee. We have already approached the TT Pro League for a discussion of this, as I explain in Question 9. below.

6. How did these NSL teams been surviving without Government Subvention for so long and will the Government be involved financially with the new TTSL.
KLL:TTSL clubs survived in the NSL (and in Regional Association football) due to community support and the love and sacrifice of those in charge of the clubs. But Love and Sacrifice are not enough to develop TTSL and its member clubs. Only commercial profit will allow our member clubs the resources to develop their internal infrastructure and their product. As I say above, TTSL has no interest in becoming a ward of the State, and in existing largely due to the charity of the public purse. We must love and sacrifice, yes, but we must also work hard and smart at improving our operation off the field (administration and marketing), and our product on the field (football).

I believe the State has a role to play, and a key one, in facilitating sporting development – by providing infrastructure, tax incentives to sponsors and investors, supporting youth programmes and technical education, etc. But it is decidedly NOT the role of the State to fund privately held football clubs and to provide prize money for their competitions, as some sectors have grown accustomed to. So, yes, TTSL has approached the State for assistance with the travel of our clubs between the two islands – we have three (3) members in Tobago – be it direct assistance or by way of an arrangement with Caribbean Airlines, and for discussion of a commercial partnership with TTSL, but we do not seek to beg the State for funding.

7. Now that there are Clubs in Tobago that will participate in the new league, how are you planning to handle the commute and accommodation for teams going there and visiting Trinidad.
KLL: As I say in Question 6. above.

8. What is your ultimate goal for the TTSL.
KLL: The entire objective of the TTSL is to grow the sport. In our member clubs. In the communities to which they belong. We must promote an entertaining product for our people, and for our young people to be attracted to in these dark times in Trinidad and Tobago. And we must maximize the economic benefits of the league to our players, our supporters, the football fraternity, and the country as a whole. All of this hinges on our sustained ability to create a professional operation and to deliver a professional product. TTSL is an exciting and progressive initiative.

9. Will we see some sort of collaboration between the Pro League and the TTSL. How is your relationship with the TTFA and the Pro League bosses, in other words, do you feel you'll get the support.
KLL: TTSL has applied for TTFA membership on 8 January 2017. We believe our acceptance into the Association is taking an inordinately long time as our Constitution is based rigidly on the TTFA model.

We trust that in the immediate post-Carnival period our application will be approved (that long again because TTFA officials have pointed to Carnival and their personal schedules as obstacles to more rapid progress). We really do hope the approval with be smooth.

Regarding the TT Pro League, we wrote to the League CEO seeking a mutual discussion of 1) technical cooperation, 2) joint competitions, and 3) promotion and relegation between the two leagues. The CEO responded by saying that TTPL would seek guidance from TTFA “for further clarification on the process”. We do not know if TTPL has since received any clarification.

10. Can we expect double headers with Pro League games and will the fixture between both run on the same timeline. Also, how will the fans get updates on the league, clubs, players, etc, will we see a website built and efficiently, accurately and often updated.
KLL: The modern world is moved by information and information technology. TTSL already has a facebook page (TT Super League) and I invite all your followers to like and follow it. We are in the process of building our website. We have already begun and will continue using the print and electronic media to get our message out to the public. I cannot say at this point if there will be joint match promotion between TT Super League and TT Pro League. That is left to be seen.

Finally, I must thank you for the opportunity to reach your followers. I and TTSL are always available for open communication in the interest of football.

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