Sat, Jul

Connection, Stars, Central opt out Ascension League

Top T&T Pro League con­tenders W Con­nec­tion, North East Stars, Cen­tral FC and Point Fortin Civic will not take part in this year’s in­au­gur­al As­cen­sion Foot­ball League, which is be­ing spon­sored by a for­eign com­pa­ny that sup­plies sports cloth­ing, gear and oth­er equip­ment.

The league is set to kick off this week­end (Ju­ly 12) and will fea­ture six pro league teams, name­ly San Juan Jabloteh, Mor­vant Cale­do­nia Unit­ed, Club San­do, Po­lice FC, De­fence Force and La Hor­quet­ta Rangers. They will be joined by six oth­er teams from the T&T Su­per League to com­plete the list of 12 com­peti­tors for Di­vi­sion One of the tour­na­ment.

FC San­ta Rosa, the 2018 Su­per League’s win­ner, Queen’s Park Crick­et Club (QPCC), Pris­ons Ser­vice FC, Cunu­pia FC, Guaya Unit­ed and Matu­ra Re-Unit­ed have been el­e­vat­ed to con­test Di­vi­sion One.

Con­tact­ed yes­ter­day, Con­nec­tion Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer (CEO) Re­nee John-Williams said her coach­es be­lieve the pre-sea­son tour­na­ment will not give them the type of prepa­ra­tion they re­quire ahead of the much-fan­cied T-League, which, be­cause of the in­volve­ment of UE­FA and FI­FA, will re­place the T&T Pro League as the coun­try’s tier 1 com­pe­ti­tion.

“Both Stu­art-Charles Fevri­er and Earl Jean made that de­ci­sion and I am very con­fi­dent in my tech­ni­cal team,” John-Williams said.

She not­ed the coach­es may al­so not want to risk in­juries in the tour­na­ment, so they pre­fer to pre­pare the play­ers in an­oth­er man­ner.

W Con­nec­tion has been the coun­try’s most suc­cess­ful foot­ball club, cop­ping half a dozen league ti­tles, along with four FA Cups, six First Cit­i­zens Cups, three CFU Club Cham­pi­onships and tro­phies in the Dig­i­cel Shield and Toy­ota Clas­sic, among oth­ers.

John-Williams said her club of­fi­cial­ly be­gan train­ing re­cent­ly, a month or so be­fore the un­of­fi­cial start of the T-League in Sep­tem­ber. It has been ru­moured that the south­ern club could not put to­geth­er a team due to fi­nan­cial rea­sons. Guardian Me­dia Sports learnt that many of Con­nec­tion’s play­ers have sought green­er pas­tures at La Hor­quet­ta Rangers, the team that ac­quired St Ann’s Rangers back in 2018.

John-Williams al­so ex­plained her team will, this year, fo­cus on play­er de­vel­op­ment.

The As­cen­sion League will pro­vide teams with the op­por­tu­ni­ty to cash in on a hand­some first prize of $250,000, plus an ap­pear­ance fee of $2,000 for each match, to be paid at the end of every month. The run­ner-up will re­ceive $125,000 and there will al­so be prizes for the top four teams. Teams par­tic­i­pat­ing in the league will not be re­quired to pay a reg­is­tra­tion fee, or­ga­niz­ers said yes­ter­day.

Yes­ter­day, North East Stars Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Di­rec­tor Michael Awai said his team re­fused to play in the tour­na­ment be­cause there is no se­cu­ri­ty for his play­ers.

“There are no con­tracts for play­ers and they are un­aware of the en­ti­ty that will be run­ning the tour­na­ment. If our play­ers are in­jured, then what hap­pens next?” Awai asked.

Mean­while, Garthorne Craig, chair­man of Point Fortin Civic, said his team missed the tour­na­ment’s reg­is­tra­tion dead­line date and so they will not be play­ing.

Di­vi­sion Two of the tour­na­ment will al­so com­prise 12 teams from the Su­per League. Like the Di­vi­sion One, it will fea­ture a hand­some prize struc­ture along with an ap­pear­ance fee of $1,000 per club for each match to be paid at the end of the month.

The league is set to be launched to­day at a press con­fer­ence at the Ho­tel Nor­mandie in St Ann’s.