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Tobago-based 1976 FC Phoenix have been accepted to play in the second season of the T&T Premier Football League (TTPFL) tier one, which kicks off on November 24.

Making way for the Tobago side is five-time Pro League winners W Connection, who have decided to take a one-year sabbatical.

FC Phoenix demonstrated their pedigree by beating Petit Valley/Diego Martin United to win the TTPFL tier two playoffs, in Tobago, two weeks ago. The Nigel De Souza-coached unit was welcomed to the top flight after meeting certain competitive and administrative criteria.

The TTPFL had previously said that there would be no promotion and demotion between the two TTPFL tiers after the first season, which ended in May with Defence Force being crowned champions.

W Connection owner Renee John-Williams confirmed her team's absence from the TTPFL on Friday. She said the team, which was in a rebuilding stage, post covid19, had set realistic objectives for the inaugural TTPFL season.

She said after reviewing the season, it was determined that there are areas of the club that need to be restructured, including administrative and financial.

She said W Connection, known for its success domestically and regionally, will work on rebuilding the youth arm of the club to ensure proper development.

"We want to continue to maintain the standard we're accustomed to," she said.

An e-mail from TTPFL organisers to tier-one clubs earlier this week said: “FC Phoenix submitted an application to join tier one earlier in October, after being crowned tier two champions, with supporting financial and sporting documentation.”

“After careful review by the TTPFL executive in planning for season two, FC Phoenix has been approved to participate in tier one which will allow for a Tobago-based team to compete at the top division in local football.”

It added that airfare costs will be covered by the league.

Coach De Souza was elated to once again have a Tobago team among the domestic top flight. The last Tobago team to compete in the local top flight was the now defunct Tobago United, over a decade ago.

FC Phoenix’s step up to tier one opens multiple windows of opportunity for the squad.

De Souza said, “It’s a fantastic opportunity for Tobago to have a team back there, it’s been years. It’s also a great chance for the players since the only way for them to get seen is to play at the highest level. We wanted to provide that opportunity and we’re happy the league saw it fit to give us that opportunity.”

He added that FC Phoenix ensured their financial books were in order, among other requirements, to help bolster their chances of possible promotion.

“I think what the league has done – this new iteration of it, I think the administration part of our club has to be as strong as our playing part. We have done a good job, our management team behind the scene has done well to get the club to at least where we can compete at that level, administratively.

“Playing-wise, we showed in this past season that we do have quality players in Tobago. Those two things combined gave us a good chance to fulfil all aspects socially and sportingly.”

Additionally, the tier one fixtures were also released this past week and FC Phoenix open their campaign with the toughest test, against Defence Force.

When asked about their first game, De Souza said this is what they signed up for.

“These players are very excited but they also know the reward for hard work is more hard work. This is going to be a lot more work to play at that level. The guys worked hard.

“For Defence Force, well, we have to play everybody so it doesn’t matter who we start and finish with. We prepare and will do our best. We’re excited but we also have to be cautious. We’re taking a step up in quality and we have to prepare as best as possible.” (with reporting by Stephon Nicholas)


SOURCE: T&T Newsday