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07
Tue, Jul

Central FC claims Gov't $$ victimisation.
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Cen­tral FC may not be among the clubs tak­ing part in this year's re­vised T&T Pro League.

Its man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and own­er Brent San­cho is cry­ing vic­tim­i­sa­tion af­ter be­ing one of two clubs to be blanked gov­ern­ment's promised sub­ven­tions yes­ter­day dur­ing a cheque pre­sen­ta­tion at the of­fice of the Min­istry of Sports and Youth Af­fairs.

Each club re­ceived $450,000, from which part will be in­vest­ed to­wards the run­ning of the Pro League. Kevin Har­ri­son, the club's Op­er­a­tions Di­rec­tor, who turned up to col­lect the cheque was told that there was no cheque for his team, as there were some dis­crep­an­cies with their salaries in the past.

Up­on re­ceiv­ing this news on Thurs­day, San­cho, a for­mer Min­is­ter of Sports un­der the Peo­ple's Part­ner­ship (PP) Gov­ern­ment, im­me­di­ate­ly stepped down as the club's man­ag­ing di­rec­tor be­lieves his team has been un­fair­ly vic­timised due to his po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion. He vowed to have very lit­tle or no in­volve­ment in the op­er­a­tions of the club, say­ing, "If that is what would help the club, then so be it."

He told Guardian Me­dia Sports that a re­port from SPoRTT last week con­firmed that all clubs were com­pli­ant and in a po­si­tion to re­ceive monies yes­ter­day. "We were asked to sub­mit doc­u­men­ta­tion more than four or five times the amount as any oth­er team. We owe monies, yes, but we have had a meet­ing with the play­ers and have since been pay­ing them bit-by-bit.

We in­tend­ed to pay off the out­stand­ing debt to the play­ers with the gov­ern­ment sub­ven­tion and move for­ward."

San­cho said their debt es­ca­lat­ed fol­low­ing their suc­cess­es in the 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17 where tons of monies were spent on the do­mes­tic com­pe­ti­tions, and to com­pete in the CFU and CON­CA­CAF clubs tour­na­ments. The club is al­so owed well over a mil­lion dol­lars in earn­ings from the pro league, which San­cho said, was used by the league to as­sist oth­er clubs fi­nan­cial­ly.

"As far as I know, we will not be tak­ing part in the Pro League un­less the per­son who takes over from me, can gen­er­ate suf­fi­cient in­come to do so. And if they can, then I be­lieve the club will be bet­ter served, as it will not be the sub­ject of di­rect at­tacks by the gov­ern­ment, and in par­tic­u­lar, this min­is­ter," San­cho ex­plained.

Ac­cord­ing to the for­mer na­tion­al de­fend­er, "I am sure Cen­tral FC is not the on­ly club ex­pe­ri­enc­ing these trou­bles."

With gov­ern­ment's sub­ven­tion now in the hands of the clubs, the 2019 sea­son will go on as planned, said Sel­by Browne, chair­man of the T&T Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion com­mit­tee formed to get the new pro league off and run­ning.

Browne, al­so pres­i­dent of the Vet­er­an Foot­ball Foun­da­tion of T&T (VFFTT), said two clubs did not re­ceive monies yes­ter­day, with Point Fortin Civic, be­ing the oth­er. How­ev­er, he made it clear both will have to sort their is­sues out first be­fore they can play.

"The agree­ment has been signed by the Pro League. One of the con­di­tions was that the T&TFC will pro­vide the nec­es­sary fund­ing to pay the salaries of all clubs, to re­store the con­fi­dence, to have trans­paren­cy and ac­count­abil­i­ty. Two clubs did not re­ceive their cheques to­day, how­ev­er, most of the clubs have agreed to pro­ceed and we will have to go back to the T&TFA Board to get a sign-off, to have funds re­leased next week."

He not­ed, "We know that the De­fence Force and the Po­lice FC did not re­ceive cheques from gov­ern­ment, but there are two oth­er clubs, one that hasn't paid salaries and that must be ad­dressed first be­fore they re­ceive any fund­ing. And in the oth­er case, it's a mi­nor mat­ter that needs to be ad­dressed."

He as­sured these is­sues will not af­fect the Oc­to­ber 4 start of the league.