T&T's top tier football competition - the T&T Pro League - is anything but a professional league said national midfielder and captain Khaleem Hyland on Wednesday.
Though Hyland's career as a defensive midfielder began at long-standing Pro League outfit San Juan Jabloteh in 2008, the 32-year-old has pointed to several questionable situations that confuse him, inclusive of the number of players who are without an income presently, and who were not receiving salaries despite having contracts with clubs.
Recently, several players who were attached to clubs in the T&T Pro League and others, whose contracts in the League had expired, were requesting stipends from the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee while training with the senior national football team.
The more-than-steady defensive midfielder, who now plays for Al Batin in the Saudi Arabian League, revealed that he receives a weekly salary consistently, despite the challenges the league faces like any other.
He said: "I don't think we should call the T&T Pro League a professional league because it is not. It does not operate as a professional league. For instance, a professional league means players have contracts for a certain amount of time, and when the COVID-19 pandemic began, nobody's contract should have ended automatically.
"What should have happened is that they should have all come together and decide on a way forward, how to move forward, and how they should have gone about it. The players should have been getting paid for the entire period of their contract," Hyland explained.
Guardian Media Sports has been reliably informed that in the T&T Pro League, more than 90 per cent of the players and staff of the teams were not being paid due to the tough economic climate, together with the government's reluctance to fund the league until a proper business plan is produced by the management of the league.
Only La Horquetta Rangers, a team owned by businessman Richard Ferguson, paid their players throughout the pandemic to date.
Minister of Sports and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe said her government will only invest in player and athlete development and will hold off on pumping more money into the T&T Pro League, having done so for the past 16 years.
Hyland said in Saudi Arabia it is similar to T&T and all over the world when it comes to professional sports and governments' input, but he made it clear that there is strict accountability.
He said he agrees that government should invest in the T&T Pro League, they should demand strict accountability from clubs, even if it means handing in their books.
He further called for the League to get up and running in the shortest possible time, pointing out that there are lots of young people who depend on it.