Tue, Feb

Colin Wharfe, CEO of the New Elite League.

It seems only 11 teams will contest the first tier (Division 1) of the proposed New Elite Football League (NEFL) which is set to kick off next year.

An update on the tournament showed that from the 21 teams that applied to be selected for the tournament, only nine clubs fulfilled the club licensing criteria by the initial deadline, with two other teams - Defence Force (Super League team) and San Juan Jabloteh - close to completing the club licensing process.

The nine clubs are Cunupia FC, Defence Force Pro League, Caledonia AIA, Queens Park Cricket Club, Bethel United, Club Sando, La Horquetta Rangers, Central FC and Prisons Service FC.

The other 10 clubs that applied are AC Port of Spain, Guaya United, Harlem Strikers, Matura Reunited, Petit Valley Diego Martin United, Point Fortin Civic, Police FC, San Fernando Giants, W Connection and new team Real West Fort United.

However, only the 11 teams that met the regional criteria will be allowed to play in Division 1, where they will be eligible to go to CONCACAF club competitions. Teams not meeting the club licensing requirement will be allowed to play in a domestic Division 2.  

The teams have until tomorrow (November 30) to fulfil the club licensing requirement.

The NEFL, an initiative of the FIFA-installed Normalisation Committee more than four months ago, seems to have been posing tremendous problems for local clubs, despite a CONCACAF seminar held at the Northern Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA).

These problems stem from the areas of infrastructure, sporting, administration, finance and legal.

From a combined source of government and the sport's world governing body, FIFA, the tournament will be funded.

According to the release: "Government of T&T and FIFA will support targeted funding framework for Transitional Season that is being finalized with relevant bodies will be broadly allocated as follows: Division 1 Clubs (approx. TT$220K each). Division 1 League Operations (approx. TT$500K). Division 2 League Operations and Travel (approx. TT$200K). Contingency (TT$100K) to be allocated depending on the number of Clubs Licensed.

"Focus to rebuild confidence by showing that funds are used for its defined purpose and that we aggressively adhere to reporting protocols. As such, funds to clubs will be paid through a TTFA-designated payroll agency monthly. Clubs will be required to submit their payroll to the agency. TTFA will remit the funds to the agency and then the payroll will be processed."

Meanwhile, Colin Wharfe has been appointed CEO of the League.

The release added: "The Normalisation Committee in conjunction with the T&T implementation of FIFA League Development Programme agreed on the type of profile and characteristics that would be needed by the resource to spearhead this Elite League Project. The description included an individual with reputable experience in high-level corporate environments, passion for the game and experience in league management.

"A key factor was that the individual must also be highly respected by corporate T&T as someone who has a reputation for being accountable, transparent, diligent and attractive for partnership and investment. Colin Wharfe ticked all these boxes and will serve in the role for at least the first season." 

SOURCE: T&T Guardian