After three weeks of preseason training, Central F.C. has several big problems to resolve, while trying to focus on their Pro League debut.
“Obviously, our biggest worry is admittance to the Pro League” said The Sharks’ Managing Director, Brent Sancho. “Although we are confident that we have met the leagues criteria, our application still has to be approved at the Pro League board meeting on Tuesday (August 28th).”
Sancho said that the club has so much to do once league entry has been confirmed. “We haven’t even purchased our uniforms yet” said the former North East Stars C.E.O. “We have chosen a supplier, selected the uniforms and all we need to do is pay the money.
However, it would be madness to spend thousands of dollars if our application is refused.” Sancho added that the club has already spent thousands of dollars to ensure that they will be able to compete in the league.
“It shouldn’t be a gamble considering the kind of backing we have, but we have had to curb our spending as much as possible while we have been waiting for the league’s decision. It’s not the best pre season preparation, but we won’t use it as an excuse.”
Head Coach, Graham Rix is equally frustrated by the wait for his team’s admission to the professional league. “We cannot sign any players until we are officially accepted into the league.
Although we have had to release some players already, until we can offer contracts we cannot afford to cut the players to 24. If, for some unknown reason our application is not accepted, there will be some extremely talented players without a professional club.
Aside from the loss to professional football in Trinidad & Tobago, this will mean that there will be a lot of unemployed footballers.” Rix said that he is totally bemused by the situation. “Although I don’t fully understand the workings of the TT Pro League yet, I find the lack of urgency bewildering.
This is people’s lives we are talking about. I saw the initial league application, but the requirements that Central F.C. have to meet have changed over the last month. Just when we thought we had provided the information required, we’re given another hurdle to get over.”
Sancho said “While we accept and applaud the league’s requirement for due diligence, I think there are flaws in this process. We were originally underwritten by an N.G.O. who guaranteed $187,000 per month plus $200,000 as part membership fee.
This organization has become so disillusioned by what they perceive to be a sense of distrust and a constant change of criteria; they informed us that they no longer wanted to fund the club. As you can imagine, this was not only disappointing to us, but also meant that we had to search frantically for new funding.” Sancho said that the club was on the verge of withdrawing their application when one of the N.G.O.’s major funders stepped up to guarantee the funds.
“We nearly fainted with relief” said Sancho. “After 3 months of work, all seemed lost. The only thing that saved us was a solid business plan that should see their funding reduced to $30,000 per month once sponsors are fully on board.”
Sancho explained that Central F.C. has had conversations with several major sponsors but that Pro League status was a necessity before they would come on board. “The leagues criteria states that you must have sufficient funding to cover salaries for the season.
That meant that we needed a guarantor with cash in the bank before we could obtain membership. We have some big name companies who want to come on board, most of whom are new to professional football. It’s a little embarrassing that the application process has become so drawn out, but we will be working around the clock once we have been accepted to finalise deals with our sponsors.”
Assistant Coach, Kevin Jeffrey said that the players in training have been magnificent. “It’s really tough on them because they are not being paid at the moment. Once we have been accepted into the league, we will have to cut the numbers to 24.
It’s going to be crazy trying to negotiate contracts and register 24 players in less than two weeks.” Jeffrey said that it will be really tough for the staff to select the final 24. “We would love to keep all of the lads, but our budget won’t allow that. Obviously, there will be some disappointed players and we will all feel sad to part with these guys who we have come to know pretty well.”
Sancho said that he was still confident that Central F.C. will be admitted to the Pro League, as their marketing and developmental plans were second to none. “But I have to admit that I am very frustrated by the delay.
We explained to Mr. Skeene that we had some international transfers to complete and we were assured that we would be accepted into the league before the August 10th deadline. Graham had three exciting young English players lined up to join the club, but without league status we could not offer them the standard Pro League contract.
I understand that we applied late in the day, but after a month of trying to satisfy the Pro League board, we are still waiting.”
Meanwhile, the Central F.C. staff and players must continue to focus on preparing the club for league membership and praying that their efforts won’t be in vain.
To contact Central F.C., email to email@example.com