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The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is seeking to form a “New Elite Football League” (NEFL) to serve as the premier domestic competition.

For the time being, ‘New Elite Football League’ is a place-holder title, meaning the name can be changed.

This League will be the primary recognised league in Trinidad and Tobago, replacing the T&T Pro League, as qualifier for Caribbean and CONCACAF club football competitions.

The proposal is for the new league to run from the months of September to May on an annual basis, with an initial horizon of three years. The competition will cater for ten clubs, which have until July 22, 2022 to submit application.

In its preamble, the TTFA states: “We intend to approach the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to request a minimum investment of $3.5 million per year (over three years) into the NEFL.”

The TTFA proposes to fund the ten Premier teams to a tune of $2.5m, with each club getting $250,000 to primarily pay salaries over the eight-month series. Another $500,000 will be for administrative costs to run the NEFL and $500,000 to pay referees costs and administrative expenses in either the T&T Super League or another second-tier league. Zonal football will be funded to the tune of $150,000 while $50,000 will go towards coach education scholarships.

Clubs have to fulfill a buy-in requirement of $75,000 as an initial one-time payment, which will be placed in bond/trust and held in a separate account governed by the TTFA. An independent body will run the NEFL in the form of a Board comprising two TTFA reps, one representative from participating clubs, a SporTT/MSCD representative, two independents and one CEO.

Applicants are required to show that they have an income-generating plan and are also required to fulfill CONCACAF club Licensing and other regulations. Other requirements are for clubs to have a credible youth programme and they must cater for women’s football in some form.

The suggestion though is that while clubs welcome the chance to play football again, there is concern that the proposal falls short in several areas. For instance, clubs are concerned about the buy-in fee of $75,000, coming out of the pandemic which has left most local clubs financially devastated. While the effort by the TTFA’s normalisation committee to restart local football was welcomed, a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said there were other concerns.

“It needs to be revisited. Essentially it is nothing different from the Pro League,” stated the source, a local club owner.

“We are not sure if there is Government support,” the source added. “Then there is a question of having to put in another $75,000 coming out of a pandemic. Each TT Pro League club would have spent five, six million dollars over the years and there is also no guarantee for those who pay the $75,000, that somewhere down the road someone won’t garnishee the TTFA and take all the money.”

Like other club owners, T&T Pro League chairman Brent Sancho felt it was too soon to speak and reserved comment for a later date.

However, in a brief statement, Sancho said: “I have only just received it and my plan is to review it with the Pro League board. However, we do have some non-starters that we made very clear to the NC from the start.”

The Express also sought to contact Richard Ferguson, the outspoken Terminix La Horquetta Rangers managing director, to ascertain whether his club would be interested in such a competition, but was unable to reach him up to press time.

SOURCE: T&T Express