Azaad Khan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Adam’s Construction San Juan Jabloteh, said the top flight football tournament in TT may have no choice but to close after monthly funding from government was stopped.
It is understood that government, through the Ministry of Sport, pump $50, 000 into the coffers of some clubs and also provide others with a monthly cheque of $17,000 to help off-set expenses. However, this funding, has allegedly been withheld since February of this year and a number of clubs have been preparing for the worse.
Clubs that played a critical role in building the foundation for professional football in Trinidad and Tobago, such as Adam Construction San Juan Jabloteh, W Connection, St Ann’s Rangers and Caledonia AIA, as well as North East Stars have literally been on bended knees for the funding to continue.
Three of the five clubs, Jabloteh, Caledonia AIA and W Connection also allegedly met with Attorney General Anand Ramlogan recently in a move to have him convince Finance Minister Winston Dookeran to release the funds.
According to Khan, “I understand that the money was approved by the Finance Minister and only needed a note from SportsMinister Anil Roberts before it can be distributed.
“All clubs, with the exception only of Defence Force, Police and TTEC are being affected by this lack funding.”
This means the TT Pro League is facing a very gloomy future as most of the clubs will be folded,” he predicted
The closure of the league means that close to 300 players will be thrown on the breadline.
“And these players have their families. People who come out daily to sell food stuff will also be affected, as well as their families,” Khan said. Meanwhile, Jabloteh have already began to put contingency plans in place. Khan admitted his club has already implemented a massive 25 percent cut on salaries for players and staff.
This is being followed by a fund-raising boat ride aboard the Treasure Queen at the end of November for which club directors and players have been mandated to go out and sell tickets in a bid to keep the club afloat. Khan claims, “the San Juan-based club, considered a pillar in local football, is not able to sustain itself further than December of this year.
“Don’t be fooled. In spite of the pay cuts, the club can fold at any time now,” he lamented.
Khan called on Minister Roberts and government to honour an alleged agreement with the clubs. “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.”
David John-Williams, owner and founder of W Connection, said his club too are trying their best to become self-sufficient.
“We are looking at it from all angles. We have a lot of things that we are looking at and we will continue work hard to ensure the club and the league will survive,” he explained. Attempts to reach Minister Roberts proved yesterday futile.