Sat, Feb

FIFA Strategic Development Manager, Professional Football, Alvaro Carias

CEO of the T&T Premier Football League (TTPFL) Colin Wharfe said the league has the potential to increase revenue tenfold and fans fourfold. This is according to officials from the FIFA Professional Football Department and Portas Consulting, who are in T&T for one week in an effort to improve the level of the local football league.

On Tuesday, a session was held at the Home of Football in Couva with TTPFL premier one clubs.

FIFA strategic development manager, professional football Alvaro Carias is one of the facilitators and Jon Culligan of Portas Consulting, a company working with Fifa in directing the TTPFL.

Culligan said the examination of the league will be broken down into six areas: decision-making; commercial opportunities to earn more revenue; competition structure and format; clubs and players; the level of fan interest; and the quality of the workforce.

Earning more income is attainable, Fifa has told the TTPFL. "We are missing huge financial opportunities even where we are sitting right now," Wharfe said. "They worked out that we could move the revenue ten-fold, we could move our contact in terms of audience fourfold by doing a number of things within the communities...if it is done in a more structured fashion the benefits that would derive would be exponential in nature."

Wharfe said changes would take place over a three to four-year period.

He said clubs are starting to do better financially with support from FIFA, the Government and sponsors.

"Certainly in tier one, the 11 clubs that are participating now I would say between nine or ten of them are very comfortable for the season, which was not the case last year...again with the support of the Government and FIFA and sponsors are coming into the league...not as we would like, but we are meeting with them to have a chat with them tomorrow."

FIFA has been contributing financially in an effort to improve the TTPFL. Wharfe said, "What they contribute financially is the smallest part of what they do. Financially they have committed to US$350,000 per annum for the next three years. I suspect that may be extended, but I don't want to get ahead of myself."

Wharfe said it is an expensive undertaking to have Fifa officials in T&T as they are sacrificing their time for little expense. "They are supporting us financially and in kind and to invest a week of a senior FIFA person's time in Trinidad is not something that they do, so it gives you a sense that they are committed. Their request of us is that we are equally committed both at the league level and at the club level, otherwise it just won't happen."

Wharfe said some of the goals of FIFA are to see a TTPFL team win a Caribbean football tournament, get young players out into the public domain, build a website and start a programme to develop players.

Asked about the biggest deficiency in the TTPFL, Wharf said clubs need to pay attention to many areas to run a club, not just on the field of play. "The clubs themselves concentrate a lot on football and not on the rest of the things that makes for a successful football club."

SOURCE: T&T Newsday