Sun, Jun

Colin Wharfe, CEO of the TTFA's Senior Men's League competitions

The start of this year’s T&T Premier Football League is well on course for March 10 for the tier one teams. Tier two, however, is scheduled to kick off at the end of April, league chief executive officer (CEO) Colin Wharfe has said.

Both tiers will feature 12 teams and organisers have been very accommodating to ensure that teams meet the required criteria to play. Wharfe said teams have been given local licenses and others got regional licenses which will allow them to participate in CONCACAF/regional tournaments.

Some clubs that have local licenses can still meet the deadline to receive regional licenses with just a few kinks to take care of by match-day 11. The new Premier League boss said though he expects to have a minor rush closer to the start of the season, he patiently awaits kick off of the new season.

“For the transitional season, there will be two tiers, the kick-off will be a tier one and those are licensed teams, either domestic license or regional licenses which will qualify teams to play in the regional club competition,” said Wharfe.

“The teams that have local licenses are missing a few bits of information and very important information that we have told them that by a certain match-day, I think it’s match-day 11, that once they can make up that slack, then we will award you a regional license.

“So you then qualify for participation in the regional club competitions. I don’t want to guess but I am fairly confident that a lot of the 12 teams will be eligible for regional licenses by that cut-off date because people are starting to see the opportunities that present themselves and the momentum is building, so that is tier one.”

“In tier two, because it is a much larger group of teams (24-plus) teams, they asked us to start a little later because they come from the deeper holes, so to speak, in terms of readiness, so we still have the cut-off of 12 teams which has been identified and then the licensing process is going relatively smoothly.

“The intention is to start towards the back end of April. In June there is a knock-out across the two tiers and then in September we will continue to have the two tiers, where there will be no promotion or demotion because of the compressed nature of the activities.”

The teams that will contest the first tier in March are 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. They are all set to benefit from a cash injection courtesy of the FIFA Forward Programme and the government. It is understood that a total of $2.64 million or $220,000 each will be distributed over four months from March to June 2023.

Meanwhile, because of the number of teams from the Super League which made up tier two of the competition, organisers have had to put their foot down in deciding on 12 teams for the competition. The teams that were left out are expected to see action when the super league holds its own tournament later this year.

Wharfe, however, said catering for them is a conversation they would have loved to have.

“What happens with the residual teams is a conversation we would love to engage in but that’s not our specific remit. I will tell you what were some of the issues. There were two or three teams coming out of the 2019 season which were due to be promoted I presume from their zones into the Super League.

“I don’t believe that ever happened, and you then had a number of teams that were neither from the Pro League nor Super League operation that said I want to be part of it. And coming out of the launch we had a number of teams that called to say they want to be part of it.

“When you start having those kinds of permutations, it is extremely time-consuming.”