PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Harsh economic realities threaten to derail the Trinidad & Tobago Pro League.
The T&T Newsday newspaper reported yesterday that several T&TPFL clubs were facing challenges on and off the field of play with collapse a serious reality.
This stems from the T&T Government of Kamla Persad-Bissessar withholding critical funding ranging from US $3,000 to US $8,500 monthly for the League and its clubs since February this year.
Five of the eight clubs that comprise the T&TPFL are under severe threat of closure. They are San Juan Jabloteh, W-Connection, St. Ann’s Rangers, Caledonia AIA, and North East Stars.
Officials from three of the five clubs recently met with T&T Attorney General Anand Ramlogan in an effort for him to lobby Minister of Finance Winston Dookeran to release the funds.
“I understand that the money was approved by the Finance Minister and only needed a note from Sports Minister Anil Roberts before it can be distributed,” CEO of Jabloteh Azzad Khan told Newsday.
“All clubs, with the exception of T&T Defence Force, Police, and T&TEC are being affected by this lack funding.”
“This means the T&TPFL is facing a very gloomy future as most of the clubs will fold.”
Khan said the closure of the League meant that close to 300 players will be thrown on the breadline.
“And these players have their families,” he said. “There are also people who come out daily to sell food stuff who will also be affected, as well as their families.”
Khan said clubs have had to come up with innovative ways to make ends meet. He noted his club had slashed players’ salaries by 25 per cent, and were promoting a party cruise in November for which club directors and players have been mandated to go out and sell tickets in a bid to keep the club afloat.
“[Jabloteh is] considered a pillar in local football, but it is not able to sustain itself further than December of this year,” he said. “Don’t be fooled! In spite of the pay cuts, the club can fold at any time now.
“Particularly with this State of Emergency, the nation’s youths are suffering. There is no hope, no way out for them and our club has provided for these under-privileged youths for years.”