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The launch of the Elite League at the National Racquet Centre, on November 8, 2022. From left to right: CONCACAF official Jonathan Martinez; Douglas Camacho, chairman of the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago; Robert Hadad, chairman of the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee; Herve Blanchard, FIFA Regional Office Development Manager;

THE TRINIDAD and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is set to launch an elite league, a combination of the T&T Pro League and the Super League, in 2023.

This announcement was made on Tuesday during a media briefing at the National Racquet Centre, Tacarigua.

Robert Hadad, chairman of the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee, which runs the daily affairs of the TTFA, said at the media briefing that a “transitional first season” is targeted to begin in January, followed by a full season to run from September/October 2023 until May 2024.

“We’re really encouraged to announce the development of a new elite league structure, which will be supported by the Ministry of Sport and Community Development,” said Hadad. “FIFA and Concacaf have also indicated their intention to offer support in different ways, for this league to develop. We would be finalising the structure with the clubs over the next few weeks with a targeted kick-off somewhere in 2023.”

Hadad continued, “We do appreciate the fact that the Pro League and the Super League (will meet with us) because there are lots of issues that we have to work out.

“The new structure will see a transitional first season in early 2023. During this transitional league, a committee featuring representatives from clubs’ stakeholders, TTFA, the Government and independent qualified professionals will work towards establishing the new elite structure on a long-term basis, with a projected kick-off of the full league season to run from September/October 2023 to May 2024.

“All of these details need to be worked out between the current members of the Pro League and the Super League because without these teams there would be no (elite) league.”

In September, Justice Devindra Rampersad approved the TTFA’s debt repayment proposal, which was filed under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, which allowed the local governing body to start payments to its creditors.

“This process was overseen by an independent trustee Maria Daniel and her team, and they are in the process of finalising arrangements to disburse these funds to the creditors, under the supervision of the court. These positive steps were key in how football is remediated as it starts rebuilding confidence in the TTFA as a viable entity,” said Hadad.

Asked why the full season is planned to take place from September 2023 until May 2024, Hadad replied, “Because of the (FIFA) windows.

“The way we see it is, and we’re taking advice from FIFA and Concacaf, this is a good timeline to run the league because, in May of every year, you need to announce the two teams that are taking part in the CONCACAF Club Championship. We want to be a part of that.”

Acting chairman of the T&T Pro League, Brent Sancho, commented, “(a merger has) been put to the table on many occasions. Both the Pro and Super League have served football in this country (with distinction).

“When you look at the type of financial support (and) human resources support it has given to young people in this country, I don’t think there is any other entity between the Super and the Pro that has touched as much as we have.”

Lee Davis, Super League president, pointed out, “I’m elated to know that the Government has stated their commitment. The tune of that commitment, that waits to be seen. The work is going to start now to see how the transition from what we had to what we want to be.

“We're looking forward to working with the normalisation committee, me and Brent, and we’ll see where it takes us.”

Douglas Camacho, chairman of the Sports Company of T&T (SporTT), spoke on behalf of Shamfa Cudjoe, Minister of Sport and Community Development.

With regards to the funding of the league, Camacho said, “It is the intention of the Government, through the Sports Company of TT, to fund the proposed league, as agreed to, between FIFA and the local governing bodies.”

Also speaking at the event were Herve Blanchard, FIFA’s Regional Office development manager, and CONCACAF representative Jonathan Martinez.

SOURCE: T&T Newsday