A global figure of US$1 million is being proposed over a two-year period by the UEFA to fix the issues facing the T&T Pro League and local football in general in the short to medium term.
But the onus is on clubs to grow and be self-sustainable. Yesterday Robert Pongracz, a vice president at the Romanian Football Association who is among a team working with the UEFA on special development projects such as this one, said the proposal was made in the spirit of the partnership with the T&T Football Association, to assist local football. And at a press conference at the Hyatt Hotel, Port-of-Spain, Pongracz believes there is a dire need to make the product football more exciting if corporate citizens have to come on board.
The US$1million proposal is to be divided among the two Leagues 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.
Pongracz also called for a system of promotion and demotion which will inspire clubs to strive for excellence and be rewarded for it.
He said, "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."
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.
Robert Mc Intosh, 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 Ava 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.
It is because of the dire financial burdens the TTFA has inherited that a number of development programmes are not being rolled out, she explained. Her assessment of the state of football also revealed the need for proper communication and transparency.