OWNER OF former TT Pro League champs Central FC, Brent Sancho, is backing a strict wage structure for clubs in the top-flight division of local football.
With the exception of Defence Force and Police, the other eight teams in the TT Pro League — champs North East Stars, Central FC, St Ann’s Rangers, W Connection, Club Sando, Point Fortin Civic, San Juan Jabloteh and Morvant Caledonia United – are all heavily reliant on Government subvention and corporate support.
However, the Government subventions have been put on hold due to the struggling economic state, while corporate TT has been slow to assist the respective clubs.
Central FC, league champs from 2014-2016, have struggled badly to stay afloat of late, and now North East Stars have reportedly been forced to implement a fixed wage structure of $2,500 to $3,000 per month for all players.
This has resulted in a mass exodus from the Stars, including coach Derek King, captain Elton John and past national players Kerry Baptiste, Densill Theobald, Julius James, Rundell Winchester and Yohance Marshall.
In an interview last evening, Sancho said, “I’ll love to see players making as much money as they can, but in the current market, it’s not possible. When you look at the grand scheme of things, it’s what the market requires right now.”
Sancho, the former TT footballer and ex-Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, said the action taken by North East Stars is not unique.
“You’re talking about North East Stars but a lot of clubs are looking at more incentive-based contracts. (A player) may have a base contract and then, the amount of games that you would have played, win-lose etcetera, you’ll get monies at it relates.”
He continued, “That is the kind of structure you’ll see a lot more clubs looking at. (Central FC) are looking at that model as well. It’s something we may employ this year.”
Asked about the monthly salaries of players at his club, Sancho commented, “We have looked after our players for the past five to six years. Since we’ve been in existence, we’ve been the highest paying club in the League – last year of course being the anomaly in terms of the financial situation. And of course the wait for prize monies would have had an impact on our financial scenario.
“Similar to North East Stars, we’ll have to have a realistic approach moving forward, to make sure that we have financial sustainability,” added Sancho.
This is the second time, in as many years, that the reigning Pro League champs have been forced to slash wages due to monetary troubles.
Sancho, speaking from a footballer’s perspective, noted, “From a player’s perspective, you’ll want to be able to make as much money as you can, to not only survive but for life after football. That is the bottom line for most professional footballers or any footballer aspiring to make football their trade.”
He continued, “You have to also, like any industry you’re involved in, understand the ins-and-outs of the industry. The League has always been a stepping stone league where players can get themselves seen, move on to the national team, and hopefully move on to other things.”