Thu, Dec

Phillips: Let's do away with Pro League.

"Let's re­vert to Na­tion­al League foot­ball," said Sam Phillips, for­mer T&T Pro League chair­man, yes­ter­day.

He be­lieves it's a tem­po­rary so­lu­tion to the on­go­ing prob­lems be­ing faced in the coun­try's strug­gling Pro League which has been to­tal­ly de­pen­dant on gov­ern­ment through the Min­istry of Sports and Youth Af­fairs and the Sports Com­pa­ny of T&T for sur­vival.

Speak­ing to Guardian Sports on Fri­day, Phillips, who has held key man­age­r­i­al po­si­tions at some of the coun­try's top foot­ball clubs, said con­sid­er­ing the cur­rent eco­nom­ic en­vi­ron­ment, it will be to­tal­ly un­fair to ask the gov­ern­ment to keep pump­ing mon­ey in­to the league.

Eight of the 10 clubs cur­rent­ly re­ceive grants of $50,000 per month (for sev­en months) to help off-set cost of salaries for play­ers and staff. Last year the gov­ern­ment came to the res­cue of the pro league with a grant of $11.1 mil­lion af­ter com­plaints from a num­ber of play­ers that their clubs were not pay­ing them. The league's start was al­so de­layed by a few months be­cause it had no cash.

But Phillips be­lieves foot­ball or­gan­is­ers can re­turn to the days when there was one na­tion­al league com­pris­ing of dif­fer­ent di­vi­sions.

"It can be called Di­vi­sion One, Two, Three or Four, with the op­tion of us­ing the present pro league as the top di­vi­sion, and play­ers will have the op­tion to work and play if they want. The main thing is that there will not be the re­spon­si­bil­i­ty by clubs to pay play­ers," Phillips said.

"They can even use the same or­gan­is­ers of the dif­fer­ent com­pe­ti­tions to run the af­fairs of var­i­ous di­vi­sions, for ex­am­ple, or­gan­is­ers of the T&T Su­per League can be re­spon­si­ble the Di­vi­sion Two com­pe­ti­tion while those in charge of Re­gion­al As­so­ci­a­tion foot­ball will man­age at the third di­vi­sion and so on."

Phillips has high­light­ed a num­ber of rea­sons for the pro league and clubs' in­abil­i­ty to be self-sus­tain­able and they in­clude the qual­i­ty of play on the field which has been se­vere­ly im­pact­ed by the at­ti­tude, be­hav­iour and in­dis­ci­pline of play­ers and their man­age­ment teams alike. To dri­ve home his point, Phillips said the dress code and de­port­ment of some man­agers/coach­es dur­ing match­es have left much to be de­sired.

Phillips said he has al­so en­coun­tered sit­u­a­tions where some pro league play­ers were seen rep­re­sent­ing am­a­teur clubs at mi­nor leagues which con­fus­es sup­port­ers of see­ing them play for free at one time and hav­ing to pay to see them, at an­oth­er.

Phillips said if there is a re­turn to the Na­tion­al League sys­tem, it will give clubs and or­gan­is­ers suf­fi­cient time to put a pro­fes­sion­al league for­mat in place for the fu­ture, say­ing there can be con­sul­ta­tion among all the stake­hold­ers in the sport be­fore a re­al pro­fes­sion­al league is in­tro­duced.

"Clubs will get the op­por­tu­ni­ty to se­cure its own home grounds and do what is nec­es­sary at the com­mu­ni­ty lev­el to be sus­tain­able. They can al­so fo­cus on be­com­ing com­pli­ant ac­cord­ing to the TTFA and FI­FA reg­u­la­tions," Phillips said.