Wed, Oct

Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe speaks during the launch of the TT Premier League, on Monday, at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain. Photo by Roger Jacob

THE wait is finally over for local footballers as the TT Premier Football League (TTPFL) will kick off on March 10 for tier-one teams. The Government is backing the league as the Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe confirmed that $3 million per year will be distributed for the first three years.

Local football has been at a standstill since the start of the covid19 pandemic in March 2020 with the exception of the Ascension Football League. The launch of the TTPFL was held at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain on Monday.

The league has been 18 months in the making and the league for 12 tier-one teams will begin on March 10 and end in May. The teams are La Horquetta Rangers, Club Sando FC, Police FC, W Connection Couva, Point Fortin Civic FC, AC Port of Spain, Central FC, San Juan Jabloteh, Caledonia AIA, Prisons FC, Cunupia FC and Defence Force FC.

The league for tier two teams will start at the end of April, but it is uncertain how many teams will compete.

COO of the TTPFL Colin Wharfe said there will be no promotion and relegation in the first season as it will only be played over two months. In June, a knock-out competition will be held featuring teams in both tier one and tier two. The second season of the league will run from September/October 2023 to May 2024.

“We at Government are asking to support to the tune of $3 million per year for three years in the first instance,” Cudjoe said.

Cudjoe urged the football clubs to be transparent in their operations. “In this day and age especially with the experience you have in football, you should be able to conduct yourself in such a way to attract private sector funding. That is important.”

Cudjoe said FIFA is supporting the TTPFL saying the world governing body is giving between US $300,000 and $400,000 per year to the TTPFL. The Sport Minister said to ensure the league is being run properly a review will be held at the end of each year.

Cudjoe urged the stakeholders to run the league with the future in mind. “We hope that we would grow stronger, closer and united. Not for me, not for Mr (Robert) Hadad (Normalisation Committee chairman) not for chairman (of the Sport Company of TT) Douglas Camacho, but for these youngsters who depend on us for their growth and that is where the investment should be.”

Cudjoe said this is a new beginning for football, saying let’s “restore it to its former glory.”

Hadad agreed with Cudjoe that the clubs must run their clubs honestly. Hadad was hired by FIFA to run the Normalisation Committee mainly to reduce the massive debt facing the TT Football Association. Hadad ensured everyone he is trying his best to reduce the debt and pay off all creditors.

Hadad said, “We are listening to you (Cudjoe) and we are trying our very best to reshape the TT Football Association with the guidance of your good self and your ministry and your sport company together with FIFA and CONCACAF.

“I want to openly thank FIFA for all their work,” Hadad said.


New TT Premier League to kick off March 10.
By Walter Alibey (T&T Guardian).

Local football is finally ready to roll. In just over a month's time, the T&T Premier Football League (TTPFL), which will feature 11 teams - Caledonia AIA, Central FC, Club Sando, Cunupia FC, La Horquetta Rangers, Point Fortin Civic Centre, Police FC, Prisons Services, San Juan Jabloteh, Defence Force and W Connection, will begin action on March 10. It will run until May, in what is expected to be a shortened season.

In June, the teams will engage in a knock-out playoff.

At a launch of the League at a gala function at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain Monday evening, it was revealed that the season will be a shortened one if they are to fall in line with the CONCACAF season that will enable the top two teams to be registered in time for the CONCACAF playoffs.

TTPFL's chief executive officer (CEO) Colin Wharfe said there will be no promotion or relegation due to a truncated season which will mean that matches will be played at the weekends and during the week.

Wharfe said: "The league has been approximately 18 months in the making. It has been the result of the support of a FIFA initiative on our behalf with respect to looking at the TT Professional League development. During the last couple of months, the organising team with full support of the Normalisation Committee, the Ministry of Sport and Community Development, FIFA, CONCACAF and the Sport Company of T&T has worked diligently to make this possible.

"The TTPFL is the new elite football league that has been sanctioned and run by the TTFA. It comprises of two divisions, a top tier and a second tier. To be clear, professional and semi-professional football and their attendant benefit are not new to T&T, but the association has deemed it necessary at this stage in the evolution of the professional game to assume direct responsibility and oversight for professional football."

Following the shortened season that will end in June, the players and teams will resume action for a second time in September and in October for the first official full season with matches at the Moruga Sports Complex, the Mahaica Sports Complex, La Horquetta Recreation Ground and the St James Barracks.

Wharfe said success for them would look like; "taking the lead in rebuilding stakeholder trust in the administration of the game; the re-engaging of players, current and aspiring; as well as the public-getting the public back involved in the game and creating a platform for a high level of competition to assist in the development of our talent".

He noted further that the end game of the above as well as other initiatives of the TTFA is to get our players and teams back to their pride of place in regional football.

The clubs will each stand to benefit from a cash injection courtesy of the FIFA Forward Programme and the government. It is understood that a total of TT$2.64 million or TT$220,000 each will be distributed over four months from March to June 2023.

Minister of Sports Shamfa Cudjoe said the government is fully in support of the league but it will look forward to see organisers of the league and the clubs pull themselves together to become self-sustainable soon.

"It has been a long, long arduous road ahead of us with a lot of bumps. This is coming at a really opportune time and I am happy that there are so many stakeholders, you have at least 10 teams and another two suppose to come on board."

She noted: "I really wanted to show that the government is supporting football and the development of football in T&T and the development through football. We, as government, are being asked to support to the tune of $3 million per year for three years in the first instance, and my response to that was that FIFA has to put something in. And you have to market and promote yourself and conduct yourself in such a way to attract private sector support.

"That has happened for a really long time in a number of sporting disciplines, but in this day and age, especially with the experience you have in football, you should be able to conduct yourself in such a way to attract private sector funding."