Sat, Jul

Photo: Police FC right back Kaydion Gabriel (right) tries to escape from Matura ReUnited midfielder Russel Alfred during Ascension Invitational action at the Police Academy in St James on 3 August 2019. Gabriel usually represents Central FC in the Pro League competition. (Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Commission member and Central FC managing director Brent Sancho has reiterated that the proposed ‘T-League’ competition—the much-touted Trinidad and Tobago Football Association-run domestic competition that seeks to unify the Pro League and Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) competitions—will not clash with the ongoing Ascension Invitational Tournament.

The Ascension Invitational has already completed five rounds of competition and today is transfer deadline day for movement between clubs. Tournament official Richard Piper confirmed that, even though it is a pre-season competition, players can only represent one club at a time in a TTFA-sanctioned competition.

“Right now, the only other TTFA sanctioned tournaments is NFA and, from what I understand, Eastern Counties,” said Piper. “So, players from the Ascension League will have to choose whether or not they are playing in North Zone or the Ascension Tournament.”

Piper explained how the penalties for infringing on the rule would work:

“For instance, if you have a player in the Ascension Tournament that goes and gets registered in the North Zone without being deregistered from the Ascension Tournament, that NFA club could face the possibility of losing the game in which the player played in by three goals and three points. That player can’t come back to the Ascension Tournament.”

The Invitational competition was introduced by Terminix La Horquetta Rangers director Richard Ferguson to fill a void in the 2019 football calendar at a cost of TT$2.3 million. Prior to its launch in July, no formal competitive football was played in the country. National Senior Men’s Team head coach Dennis Lawrence blamed T&T’s poor performance at the June Gold Cup on this inactivity.

Heading into the latter half of the year, however, the traditional leagues are seeking to resume, raising questions of how the competitions will work together.

Sancho reiterated that the T-League will not get in the way of the Ascension tournament, though.

“The board and everyone met—with Mr Ferguson present—and we set the 4 October as a target to accommodate his Ascension League,” said Sancho. “The Commission is still waiting on funding and sorting out those other aspects, but 4 October is the target.”

The Commission was assembled to steer the T-League but has experienced numerous setbacks from the get go. Chairman Lindsay Gillette recently voiced his displeasure with funding delays as well as what he viewed as political gamesmanship from Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and general secretary Camara David.

Sancho said he agreed with Gillette’s position.

“I fully endorse what [Gillette] said,” Sancho told Wired868. “At the end of the day, the sole hope of all parties of the Commission is to see football played in a sustainable environment.”

The collaboration between the Commission and Ascension simplifies player registrations in theory, but Piper asserted that even if there was an overlap, a player’s registration would still belong to the team that has his official registration certificate.

“With regards to the players from clubs who may not have played in the Ascension Tournament, like Central FC, W Connection, etc, their registration is still held by Central FC, etc in principle,” he said. “They would just be classified as under the Ascension Invitational registration just for this tournament.”

The rule of players only being allowed to play in one tournament at a time, however, would still apply.

The Ascension Invitational Tournament is heading into its sixth week of action this weekend with Defence Force and Morvant Caledonia United in Division One and Deportivo Point Fortin in Division Two dominating thus far and sitting atop their respective divisions.

As the transfer window closes today, a few teams have been wheeling and dealing to bolster their ranks. Few have been as busy in the window as FC Santa Rosa, which has seen an almost complete overhaul of the squad that lifted the TT Super League title in 2018.

After starting the Invitational with the ‘Big Cannons’, former captain Ryan ‘Fry’ Stewart, Noel Williams, Shabaka Mahluli, Carlon Nicholas departed, while Kordell Samuel, Russel Alfred, Nykoaba James, Julio Noel, Rawle Felix, Isaiah Lee, Jaydon Prowell, Rakim Cabie and Rivaldo Coryat were added.

The new-look Santa Rosa team, which is fourth in the 12 team standings, face second from bottom Matura ReUnited from 4pm on Saturday at the Matura Recreation Ground. All eyes will be on the newly renovated Phase Two La Horquetta Ground, though, as Rangers—fresh from their 10-2 mauling of Matura—host Division One leaders, Defence Force, from 6pm.

Rangers opened their ground last Saturday with soca stars Blaxx, Preddy and Isasha performing after their contest. This weekend, their guest performers will be Swappi and 5 Star Akil while the Ascension Angels dancers are scheduled to perform at halftime. There will also be a ‘Sexiest Short Pants’ competition with TT$500, TT$300, TT$200 cash prizes for first, second and third place respectively.