THERE will be no Ascension Invitational football in 2020 and unlikely to be a Trinidad and Tobago Pro League competition, due to the continued onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It just not prudent,” Terminix La Horquetta Rangers official and Ascension Invitational organiser Richard Ferguson told the Express. “I think most likely it should start around late February. The last week in February. I think that is what we are looking at.”
A second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak has shut down league football in the Czech Republic. However, in England where the Government is to begin a second national lockdown today, the world’s most popular and lucrative football league—the Premier League—has so far been spared, although non-essential shops, restaurants, pubs and leisure facilities are being closed for at least four weeks.
Given the daily infection rate in T&T, Ferguson believes it’s not smart business to have a 2020 tournament. He added that all is in place for the start of the competition, but the virus makes it prudent to wait further.
“It’s not looking viable, there is too much Covid-19 virus going around,” he said. “We have all the approvals. We have contracts signed up with the clubs, SportsMax and TV6 and so.”
Ferguson continues to pay his players, although they are not training. However, he noted that some of his players are high-risk and have not been socially responsible, posting videos of themselves at Covid parties, minus face masks and not observing social distancing protocols.
Having personally known two persons who have died from the virus, Ferguson said it made little sense to either have his staff or others exposed to the ravages of Covid-19.
“Even if the Prime Minister in his wisdom decides to open up (allowing football to resume), I am not doing it,” Ferguson declared.
Pro League uncertain as well
The T&T Pro League will also not likely start until next year. Like Ferguson, Pro League acting chairman Brent Sancho is concerned about increasing instances of Covid-19 infections. The Pro League was originally projected to start in September.
“We were ready to go along (with resuming football), from the Ascension Invitational, into the Pro League, but we (Trinidad and Tobago) have not been able to open up,” stated Sancho.
Speaking as the Central FC owner, Sancho said: “We are talking about players being off for eight months. Then there is the Christmas season coming up, and we do not know what the restrictions will be then, and so we have to be mindful of that.”
Sancho said discussions are still being held among clubs, although the Government’s final year of a three-year arrangement with the Pro League has still not been finalised. But Sancho felt that pronouncements from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe during the recent FIFA/TTFA dispute indicate an interest in the well-being of the sport.
“If I was to gauge, the Government showed their interest in the sport by obviously trying to guide the process that was happening. So, I would suspect that was a good sign and hopefully now they understand the importance of football in the country and they would like to be part of whatever is going on next,” he said.
SOURCE: T&T Express