The 2020 season of the Ascension Invitational Football League (AIFL) is missing the approval of the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee which is headed by chairman, Robert Hadad, for approval to kick-off.
Informational reaching Guardian Media Sports on Thursday is that the three-tier competition received authorisation from the Confederation of North, Central America and the Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), which was sent to the Hadad-led normalisation committee, who in turn is expected to relay the message via letter, to the organisers of the Ascension Football League.
According to a source close to the league, approval from CONCACAF was sought because the League was expected to culminate into a regional play-off among the Caribbean's top clubs, with three teams from T&T, and one each from Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica. The Ascension League is expected to mushroom into an 'Island Cup' play-off, however, this will be withheld this year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Guardian Media Sports reached out to Hadad via a WhatsApp message to find out if approval for the League had to come from his committee, and if authorisation had already been granted by the CONCACAF. However, up to press time, there was no response.
According to the source, the League could kick off a month after approval is given. "Once that happens, then the organisers will send out invitations to all the clubs in T&T to participate."
This year the tournament will be a three-tier competition with 10 teams in the top tier, likely to comprise of teams from the T&T Pro League: a second-tier which is set to feature 10 clubs from the T&T Super League and a third tier, which will comprise teams from the six Regional Associations - Northern, Southern FA, Eastern FA, Central FA, Tobago FA and the Eastern Counties Football Union (ECFU). The competitions will be based on a home and away format.
According to the source, "There will be prize monies totalling $594, 000. All referees will also be paid.
The tournament will also mark a return of Friday Night Football, as there will be live coverage of a doubleheader every week in the top tier, on regional Sports Television Network SPORTS MAX, from either the Diego Martin Sports Complex, the La Horquetta facility, which is the home ground of Terminix La Horquetta Rangers and the newly refurbished Police grounds, at the St James Barracks in Long Circular.
It is understood that attempts are also underway to have the live Friday night matches streamed on the internet as well as shown live by a local television station CNC3.
Meanwhile, W Connection Football Team, a multiple-times winner of the T&T Pro League and AC Port-of-Spain will take no part in the Ascension League. Contacted yesterday W Connection Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Renee John-Williams said a preliminary decision was taken that the club will not participate in the League this year, pending further receipt of information from the organisers, which could change their decision. "But thus far a decision was taken to not participate," John-Williams said.
The 'Savonetta Boys' as they are popularly known, did not take part in the tournament last year, along with the AC Port-of-Spain which is formerly North East Stars.
AC Port-of-Spain owner and managing director Ryan Nunes said he will first await confirmation from the normalisation committee before a decision is made at his club.
Defence Force won the league's 2019 League 1 competition, while San Fernando Giants won League 2. The League is managed and financed by Richard Ferguson, who is the owner of Terminix La Horquatta Rangers FC.
Teams interested in competing in the 2020 Ascension Tournament may contact tournament director Kieron Edwards on WhatsApp at 327-6406 or by email at email@example.com.