UEFA keen to help boost the local game

Following a week of consultations and forum discussions between officials of UEFA and TTFA including various stakeholders, the consensus shared at a Press Conference at the Hyatt Regency on Monday was that the local football factions are on the right path towards sustainable development.

Robert Pon­gracz, a UEFA Football operations specialist  made a recommendation for a sys­tem of pro­mo­tion and relegation which will in­spire clubs to strive for ex­cel­lence and be re­ward­ed for it.

“Foot­ball is not just about play­ing foot­ball, but all the ad­min­is­tra­tion be­hind it. The mar­ket­ing stuff we have bud­get­ed for it, so the club has to learn what has to be done in this mod­ern world to at­tract the fans. Apart from that, we are in­vest­ing heav­i­ly in ed­u­ca­tion, as the clubs must know that there are dif­fer­ent sources of rev­enue.”

He spoke of a   pro­pos­al where monies from the FIFA subvention would be di­vid­ed among the two top tier Leagues (Pro League and Super League) with two main char­ac­ter­is­tics, the first is for there to be equal shar­ing among the clubs and there­by en­abling clubs to plan ahead, as they will know how much they will be earn­ing. And the sec­ond is for clubs to re­ceive monies based on their per­for­mances.

The UE­FA al­so pro­posed a club li­cens­ing sys­tem which will be used to guide clubs in un­der­stand­ing what is nec­es­sary to com­bat to­day’s foot­ball chal­lenges. Though the li­cens­ing sys­tem has be­come a norm world­wide, the UE­FA is in the process of fine tun­ing it to show ways it can ben­e­fit clubs.

Howard McIn­tosh, CON­CA­CAF and Caribbean projects se­nior man­ag­er ad­mit­ted there is a lot of work to do on the path of the TTFA to turn around the for­tunes of lo­cal foot­ball. How­ev­er, he be­lieves that be­cause of the po­si­tion­ing of the TTFA, with its own head of­fice, home of foot­ball and its own sta­di­um, it can take im­me­di­ate ad­van­tage of its sit­u­a­tion with some tweak­ing and hard work.

He said TT foot­ball is for­tu­nate present­ly, with the best foot­ball fa­cil­i­ties in the Caribbean, the most sup­port­ive gov­ern­ment, most sup­port from FI­FA, CON­CA­CAF and the CFU, has a home of foot­ball, and has a pas­sion­ate foot­ball pres­i­dent and peo­ple.

“The pro league can be tweaked in six weeks and im­ple­ment­ed. Home of Foot­ball can be tweaked in three months and the strate­gic plan in two months and im­ple­ment­ed” Mc In­tosh said. The TTFA has been a ben­e­fi­cia­ry of the FI­FA For­ward pro­gramme, like many oth­er coun­tries, which, be­cause of its achieve­ment over the years, has achieved an in­crease amount from the world gov­ern­ing body for the sport of US$1 mil­lion from US$500,000 for op­er­a­tional ex­pens­es, and US$750,000 for cap­i­tal projects over the past three years.

UE­FA’s Head of In­ter­na­tion­al Re­la­tions Eva Easquier made it clear her or­ga­ni­za­tion was not here to im­pose the prac­tices of Eu­rope on lo­cal foot­ball, but rather to look at the game and of­fer ideas to im­prove it, and the way it is run, by of­fer­ing tips on best prac­tice.

UE­FA of­fi­cials left a list rec­om­men­da­tion to en­hance the lo­cal game and make it sus­tain­able when they were here five months ago and it en­tailed in­creased in­volve­ment by the foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tion. Easquier said her team dealt with two mis­sions, name­ly the now con­tro­ver­sial Home of Foot­ball, which is ex­pect­ed to solve a num­ber of fi­nan­cial prob­lems be­ing faced: and the in­tro­duc­tion of a prop­er gov­er­nance struc­ture to as­sist the T&T Pro League.

See the videos below which shows the remarks made by each speaker at Monday’s Press Conference.