This year’s milestone National Super League (NSL) will kick off its 13th season under complete control by the T&T Football Association (TTFA) on Wednesday with a complete round of fixtures, including a clash between the reigning champion team, Guaya United and last season’s runner-up Club Sando.
That fixture will officially open proceedings with a 3.30pm kick-off at the Guaya Recreation Ground, while the other 14 clubs will kick off their campaigns later in the afternoon. Guaya won the league last year in its debut season by a single point.
Details of the 2014 season were announced yesterday at the TTFA, located at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of-Spain, where an unorthodox but interesting structure to the league was revealed.
Commissioner of the league, Neville Ferguson, explaining the new structure at the launch, said this year’s programme will see two rounds of action with the top half of teams and the bottom eight teams being separated.
The opening round will see each team play each club once for a total of 15 matches, before the top eight battle for championship status, while the bottom teams will scrap to avoid relegation into their respective zones. This year, three teams will face the drop.
Ferguson, who said all clubs were consulted and agreed to new format acknowledged that some clubs may have tougher away matches than others, but it was a necessary change for the sake of the league’s intended time frame of completion.
He also said that he and the clubs will again meet at the conclusion of the first round in consideration of the fixtures.
Ideally, this year’s NSL programme should be completed by Carnival next year, Ferguson said. In order for such to occur, full rounds of matches will be played on Sunday, as is the norm, while Wednesdays will also be included to facilitate the increased number of clubs.
The league welcomes a record fourth club from Tobago, the zonal champion, Goal City FC, which joins Bethel United, Stokely Vale FC and 1976 Phoenix.
Also included in the 2014/2015 competition are La Horquetta SA, which famously copped all of Eastern Football Association’s (EFA) major titles last year, Southern Football Association (SFA) champion team and newcomer Petrotrin Palo Seco and Central champion Las Lomas United.
The returning clubs are Club Sando, Guaya United, Joe Public FC, FC Santa Rosa, Siparia Spurs, T&T Defence Force, WASA FC, Real Maracas and Malabar FC.
Also speaking at the league’s launch yesterday TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips expressed gratitude to Anthony Harford and his company, All Sport Promotions which handled the management of the NSL for several years.
All Sport Promotions indicated last year that it was unable to continue managing the league due to financial constraints. Phillips yesterday praised the company but said he too was happy that the local governing body would have the NSL completely under its control.
He also thanked the Tobago Football Association, viewed by many as one of the country’s most efficient associations, as well as the Tobago House of Assembly for their contribution to the development of football on the island.
He said, as evidenced by the record number of football clubs from Tobago now into the NSL, the sport was continuing to thrive.
Phillips said the league has and will continue to benefit in particular numerous players of T&T’s national youth teams as well as communities.
The association also announced that the NSL will likely see the introduction of a youth league next season, where each club in the NSL will be mandated to field a youth team. A women’s league is also being considered and is currently in discussions with stakeholders.
Match Day One
Guaya United v Club Sando, Guaya Recreation Ground, 3.30 pm
Joe Public FC v Petrotrin Palo Seco, Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya, 4 pm
FC Santa Rosa v Siparia Spurs, YTC Ground, Arouca, 4 pm
Goal City FC v T&T Defence Force, Plymouth Recreation Ground, 4pm
1976 FC Phoenix v Las Lomas United, Canaan Recreation Ground, Tobago, 4 pm
Bethel United v Malabar FC, Montgomery, Tobago, 4pm
La Horquetta SA v WASA FC, UTT Ground, O’Meara, 5 pm
Stokely Vale FC v Real Maracas, Plymouth Recreation Ground, 6.30 pm.
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