The extent of the problems that currently exist in local football may well have been the reason why TT Pro League club owners had to openly reject the idea of returning to amateur status even before it was suggested by anyone.
It is probably the appropriate time for clubs to open their eyes to recognise the numerous problems – financially and administratively – and the leagues’ disorder right across the board.
There are many persons in life whose effort to engage in the business of change for the better is often aborted in fear that the future may be worse. In the case of football, this is not the case. The country has sufficient evidence that change is inevitable simply because all of the EFA (Eastern Football Association), the newly reconstructed Super League, and the Pro League, are in the midst of some form of confusion.
The evidence of the Pro League’s problems is clearly seen in the comments made by Central FC owner, Brent Sancho, and his forceful demand of funding for all the ‘professional’ clubs from the Ministry of Sport and the Sportt Company.
The first question is: why has the league not been able to bring out the fans to support matches? The answer lies in the mediocrity of the performances by the teams.
The game of football is the commodity which should be the main target for correction but unfortunately, there is an absence of football education on club benches.
For some unknown reason, this country has never placed great emphasis on the training our coaches need when they are working at the highest level of the game.
This education is not only about the game on the field, but specifically to define to the players a professional approach, that is based upon commitment, intensity of training methods which include understanding the tactical ingredients, the use of clever understanding among the players in a team, and most of all, the areas of communication which must be practised in order to produce quality football satisfactory to the fans.
Sancho said that we must not return to amateur status, but at this stage, we are currently operating in that category. The difference is that these players are demanding payment for their efforts, quite naturally because they are contracted to do same.
Not for the first time did we hear of the need for government to finance the Pro League. But club owners, who have chosen to invest their money in a pro league franchise, must have catered for all the preliminary financial commitments from club registration, to players’ and coaches’ salaries, supply of all the regular areas of financial coverage such as balls, uniforms, medicine kits, and team internal travel and even external travel when the CONCACAF clubs championship requires travel and hotel abroad.
The club owner’s financial return comes from gate receipts, prize monies and investors from the business sector who may wish to support the club as shareholders. These requirements appear to have failed and the team performances have not reached the level where fans will respond by attending matches.
I have seen a formula used by the then East German administrators. These clubs got support from the business sector which employed the majority of players in their company’s pay package, where team representation is primary in their terms of employment. They employed excellently trained coaches and demanded maximum efforts from the chosen players.
This project worked so well that in 1976 East Germany won the gold medal in soccer at the Montreal Olympics, and also defeated the then West Germany in a World Cup fixture.
That is the way forward, especially as our Government had already committed to allowing tax breaks for members of the business sector who are approached by clubs to be shareholders. However, clubs must be trained to handle their administrative efforts from all angles. They must aim to become more professional.