TWO weeks after kicking off its 2023-2024 season at Skinner Park, not a match has been played in the Southern Football Association (SFA) competition. Match officials from both the Central and Southern Football Association have refused to work, demanding more money and better security arrangements.
When elected new SFA president in April, Tiger Tanks Limited general manager Denis Latiff had promised a revival of the Association’s competition, which had shrunk to just a few competing clubs. So frustrating now has been this situation with match officials, that Latiff is considering alternative arrangements to get his competition going.
Latiff whose company Tiger Tanks also sponsors the Secondary Schools Football League, stated that the match officials wanted a security presence at matches, which he agreed to, by having police present. But according to Latiff, the major concern is that the refs are demanding more money.
“I think the refs’ main contention is the money,” he stated. “We still trying to work with them, but they not working with us.”
Contacted yesterday, Lisa Bramble, chairperson of the South Zone of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTRFA), indicated a preference to refer the matter to the Southern Football Association.
Commenting briefly, Bramble said: “SFA and South Zone are in key negotiations towards the 2023 league season. We have put a proposal to SFA and I am awaiting a response.”
Meanwhile, TTRFA president Osmond Downer confirmed to the Sunday Express that zonal referees operate independently and any strike is currently restricted to only the South and Central zones.
“Each Zone has its own independent executive,” Downer stated, while adding: “The North Zone is proceeding with its negotiations and so is the East Zone.”
According to a source, the South referees were demanding as much as a $200 increase, moving match fees to $650. However, Latiff was willing to offer $550, which was flatly rejected, although football at the SFA level is played on an amateur basis.
Latiff preferred not to disclose details of his negations with the South referees body, but hinted that he is exploring other avenues to get his competition started, including using referees from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), rather than the TTRFA, the traditional, but independent body. Clubs too, have formulated the idea of providing their own match officials, something done in the past when official match officials failed to show up for games.
Latiff stated that he has to find a balance between pleasing officials, clubs, footballers while meeting other costs such as venue rentals, including Skinner Park, which he has had to pay for, although at a reduced rental fee.
“We now start back the football since Covid and so on, so, money is scarce,” Latiff said. “We not getting no help from the TTFA at all. The Association say they have no money to assist us.”
Latiff disclosed that operational costs had been high and so far, sponsorship has been small.
“I wanted to start that football in Skinner Park. That is the mecca of football in South,” he said. “I have to think about the players too. They want too, although I got uniforms for them.
“We really want to get football back on the go,” Latiff stressed. “I guess not everybody want to commit. They only see things their way.”
SOURCE: T&T Express