At the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) reconvened Annual General meeting held on Saturday October 7th , the General Secretary was directed by the Meeting to apologise, on behalf of the TTFA,to the Guaya United Football Club, as a consequence of the following sequence of events:
On September 9th, 2023, Guaya United (Guaya) played a T&T Premier Football League Tier 2 game against Bethel United FC and won the game. This qualified Guaya to be one of the final six teams to contest for the trophy via the Play Offs since Guaya was then tied with Harlem Strikers FC for sixth place on points but qualified on goals scored. Bethel United accepted the defeat and made no protest. However, three days after the Guaya-Bethel game, Harlem Strikers lodged a protest to the TTFA, questioning the eligibility of player, Derron John, who played for Guaya in the Bethel game.
On August 3, 2023 Guaya had requested permission from San Juan Jabloteh Football Club (SJJFC) to allow a transfer of player Derron John to Guaya and SJJFC agreed to the transfer on August 10th, 2023. The TTFA processed the transfer in the “Connect System”on August 13th, 2023, effectively ratifying the transfer of John from SJJFC to Guaya. Guaya then proceeded to use John in the game against Bethel United on September 9th, 2023.
It should be noted that all clubs were advised by the TTFA, by memorandum dated July 16th, 2023, of the domestic transfer window dates, i.e., July 17th, 2023 to July 27th, 2023.
We, the TTFA, acknowledge that we erred in ratifying the transfer because Guaya requested the transfer after the closure of the domestic “transfer/registration window” in contravention of the provisions of Article 10.3 of the T&T Premier Football League Regulations, 2023.
The protest lodged by Harlem Strikers was heard by an ad-hoc “Special Disciplinary Committee”. During the sittings of the Special Disciplinary Committee, Guaya was invited to participate in its deliberations but opted not to do so.
On September 16th, 2023, the TTFA’s General Secretary wrote to Mr. Randy Hagley, President of Guaya, detailing the findings of the Disciplinary Committee. In particular, the Committee noted that:
“It is also undisputed that Guaya United submitted their transfer request for Mr John after the transfer window had already closed. To fall under the exception expressed in Article 10.3 as mentioned above, the requesting club must submit all relevant supporting documentation inclusive, but not limited to, Contracts and/or references to the Association to allow for same to be reviewed and thereafter approved. This was not done on this occasion.
Failing to transfer/register Mr John within the transfer window and not meeting the criteria established to qualify for the exception to the rule in Article 10.3, Mr John is deemed to be an ineligible player.”
The Special Disciplinary Committee’s report indicated that the TTFA “made an error” in allowing the transfer of player John from Jabloteh. In its decision the Special Disciplinary Committee stated, in part, the following;
“The Committee is of the opinion that the violation of fielding Mr. John in the match against Bethel S.C. warrants Guaya United being sanctioned with a forfeit” and “The effect of this decision results in Guaya United losing the match against Bethel S.C. 3 goals to nil”.
This was published in the local media.
This meant that Guaya United lost their place in the Play Offs and was replaced by Harlem Strikers.
The matter was raised at the AGM by President of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association Osmond Downer and Mr. Hagely provided further context upon invitation. Mr. Hagley also intimated that the matter has brought the reputation of Guaya, which is beloved by its community of Guayaguayare, into public disrepute.
He further stated that he would be satisfied with a public apology in the interest of not disrupting the final matches of the Play Offs and the overall benefit of football.The General Meeting agreed and a motion was passed in this regard.
The General Secretary of the TTFA, on behalf of the TTFA, apologizes to Guaya for the breakdown of internal controls at the TTFA relative to this matter and any problems and embarrassment caused to the Club because of this unfortunate error.