Unless an arbitration process is commissioned, or the tourney is played using its original regulations, Slingerz FC, Alpha United, Georgetown Football Club (GFC) and Pele have declared that they will not participate in the Elite League which is set to start on November 13th.
This sentiment was shared by the clubs at a press conference held at the Sambora Communications Incorporated office in West Ruimveldt.
Speaking on behalf of the Slingerz FC, General Manager Collin Aaron said they will not participate in the event until mediation occurs between the disgruntled clubs and the federation. Presently, Slingerz FC has officially submitted a letter to the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) stating their desire not to feature in the championship.
The primary dispute revolves around the GFF’s decision to increase the tournament to 10 teams without consulting the original eight teams. The teams expected to join the event are Topp XX of Linden and Victoria Kings of the East Coast of Demerara.
The four clubs are contending that this move infringes on the original contract signed with the Normalization Committee (NC) as well as the GFF constitution. They further stated that relegation and promotion shall not occur until the end of the second season under the contract, and that increasing the membership is an act of promotion.
Although producing the tourney’s rules and regulations as a contract signed between the NC and the clubs, Aaron declared “The document of itself is being deemed to be a contract, we are being bound by it, if we are not being bound by it, that means we can do our own thing. The chairman who setup the Elite League, Mr. [Clinton] Urling came out and made a statement and said there was a contract between the clubs and the NC. Why would we then debate it?”
He noted that a meeting which featured all the Elite League teams was held several weeks ago at Grand Coastal Inn, at which the GFF President said that the intention is find a compromise to the impasse.
However according to Aaron, when the idea was put forward to have a playoff for the two berths featuring several teams, some of whom don’t have Elite League licenses, Forde said that cannot happen. He revealed that the meeting bore no fruit and since then, no form of communication has been forthcoming from the GFF despite writing to the entity on several occasions. Efforts to contact GFF President Wayne Forde for a comment proved futile.
Aaron affirmed, “We wrote another letter asking for arbitration, I read in the paper that the President said he don’t see no need to engage in mediation. This is the process, this is what the constitution ask for, this is four members and the executive committee of the GFF having a dispute, the executive committee cannot make pronouncements on the disputes, you can’t decide we are not going this route, we are going this way”.
“There is no provisional elite. Once you become elite you are a member with voting rights, like all associations, so to change the membership of the federation will require the congress. The executive committee cannot change the membership, only congress can add, suspend or expel,” he said. Asked what would be the decision of the clubs if the GFF produces evidence from FIFA and/or CONCACAF to support their position, Aaron said the clubs challenge the GFF to produce any documentation from FIFA or CONCACAF that supports their decision.
Similarly, quizzed if the clubs non-participation in the league will affect Alpha United’s and Slingerz’ CFU Club commitments in 2017, Aaron said declared that their participation could only be affected if they are suspended from the federation.
Meanwhile, Alpha United Chief Odinga Lumumba said, “I am not prepared, Alpha United is not prepared to participate in the tournament under those conditions. I think we need to have urgent arbitration, I think we have been reasonable on this matter. Urgent arbitration and discourse and look at the way forward”.
According to the former presidential adviser, “Let us try to resolve this matter, bring in back Urling, and bring in back the CONCACAF people to draft up the agreement to make sure we have an understanding of where we go. See if we can make compromises, see if we can work together. I believe that is what we should do the next month or two”.
He added if the four clubs pulled out of the tournament, then it cannot be considered an Elite League, affirming the introduction of the proposed two teams cannot generate the interest required, compared to a club like Western Tigers in a league that is struggling financially.
Lumumba posited that he is not against change but the process in which it is done, adding “This is not football, this is politics, and if it was football then you go through a process to identify two teams. You have Riddim Squad, you have Western Tigers, you have Den Amstel, You have Grove [Hi-Tech], you can pull eight or 10 teams together and in two or three weeks have a short tournament and let the two teams come to the top from that tournament. If that is what you want, but that is not the case, obviously they want to handpick two people to get two votes and this is bad for the process”.
Meanwhile President of Pele FC Robby Rambarran said, “We do not have an objection about expanding the league but primarily our concern is about the process. The high handedness in the way it is being imposed on us. Take that into consideration with the regulations we had from the inception when this tournament was conceptualized, it was agreed that it would be run for two years”.
Rambarran declared, “You are hearing all kind of sentiments expressed about the four teams, it was six and up to this day, the other two teams that have signed on from us have never officially told us they are withdrawing their support. All we are hearing is these are the four teams and it’s all about some political, or something sinister, it’s a process and we want the process to be done principally and we are going to stick by it.
The executives of Pele met and we are saying that we are not going to take part in the tournament unless the process goes to arbitration and we all come out having a mutual agreement”.
General Secretary of GFC Faizal Khan, echoed the statements of the other teams noting, “What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. This is a clear situation of rules are rules. Investments were made on agreements that were made, investments were made by clubs and individuals based on agreements that have already taken place”. He declared, “It’s sad and disappointing to see the process in which these decisions were made, nobody here is opposed to an expansion of the league. However it’s the process in which this has happened. The massive losses that took place in year one, the players are owed, clubs that worked around it, if we bought eight oranges in year one and only sold two, why do we want to buy 10 now, it doesn’t make commercial sense.”
Khan noted that if the intention is to make the league a financial success, we have to operate in a professional manner at every level and not make high handed decisions without democratic consultations.
However, according to sources close to the GFF, “We are optimistic that the clubs will eventually agree to play, the main stakeholders the players are suffering and we hope good sense prevails and get some action on November 13th”.
According to sources, the presentation of the rules and regulations as a contract by the clubs contradict the statements made by Urling that an agreement existed between the NC and the clubs.
The source further said that the President’s position, in his experience as an administrator and based on his guidance from CONCACAF and FIFA that the rules and regulations of the event of are not a contract has been confirmed.