Harlem Strikers was awarded the sixth position in Tier II of the T&T Premier Football League and with it a ‘Big Six’ playoff spot after the T&T Football Association sanctioned Guaya United for the use of an unregistered player – Derron John.
Last Thursday, Guaya United FC was given a 1 p.m. deadline to provide details and information about the transfer and approval of striker Derron John, who had been the subject of an ongoing battle between the southeast team and Harlem Strikers for the overall sixth position.
Both teams were locked on the same points and goal difference after the final day of action in round one of the competition with Guaya getting the nod for the sixth position based on a head-to-head comparison which put them among the six qualifiers for the Big Six Play Off that was scheduled to begin last weekend.
In the playoffs, Guaya was set to face Police FC, but a protest lodged by Harlem Strikers forced the T&TFA to suspend the match until an investigation was done.
In a media release on Tuesday night by Amiel Mohammed, the general secretary of the TTFA, it mistakenly stated that John was successfully transferred instead of unsuccessfully transferred.
The release stated that: “The initial request to facilitate this transfer is dated 11 August 2023. A correspondence to TTPFL Tier 1 and Tier 2 clubs dated 16 August 2023, indicated that a Domestic Registration Window will be opened from 17 July 2023 to 27 July 2023. We would like to invite Guaya United to kindly provide any details and further information related to Mr John by no later than 1 pm (AST) on 13 September 2023.”
However, Randy Hagley, the Manager of Guaya United noted that the request for John was made between mid-June to early July which was well inside the transfer window and it was later approved by Jabloteh and put into the system for the local football federation approval within the July 27 deadline.
However, the player was only registered on August 6 when the team played against FC Phoenix at the Guaya Recreation Ground in a match that ended 2-2. In that match, he could not play, as there was a grace period to submit names for the game.
When contacted last Tuesday, Gregory Mc Sween, manager of Harlem Strikers, said it was not the concern of his club whether there was a blunder in the registration or not, saying the fact that John was not registered in time was all that mattered to them.
Following a four-member Special Disciplinary Committee meeting which included Alexia Romero (chairwoman), Siddiq Manzano (member), Samuel Harewood (member), and Ato Rockcliffe (member) a decision was taken to award the sixth position to Harlem Strikers.
According to the media release date of September 16, and issued by Monzano: The committee was presented with an incident involving a transfer of a player namely Derron John, from San Juan Jabloteh to Guaya United.
The dispute arises as Guaya United requested the transfer of Mr John after the closure of the Domestic Registration Window “transfer window” and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association, in error and without the requisite approval to satisfy the provisions of Article 10.3 of the T&T Premier Football League Regulations, 2023.
The release continued: Following the transfer, Mr. John went on to play a TTPFL Tier 2 match for Guaya United against Bethel S.C. where he went on to score the decisive goal propelling Guaya United to the playoffs on goal difference.
It is undisputed that Guaya United is bound by the TT Premier Football League Club Participation Contract signed by Mr Randy Hagley (Club Representative) as well as the relevant Regulations and Code(s) of Conduct contained within the said contract.
It is also undisputed that Guaya United submitted their transfer request for Mr John after the transfer window had already closed.
To fall under the exception expressed in Article 10.3 as mentioned above, the requesting club must submit all relevant supporting documentation inclusive but not limited to Contracts and/or references to the Association to allow for the same to be reviewed and thereafter approved. This was not done on this occasion.
Failing to transfer/register Mr John within the transfer window and not meeting the criteria established to qualify for the exception to the rule in Article 10.3, Mr John is deemed to be an ineligible player.
Rule 19.1 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code 2023 states that if a player fielded in a match and/or competition is declared ineligible, the FIFA judicial bodies, taking into consideration the integrity of the competition concerned, may impose any appropriate disciplinary measures.
Guaya United has responded on Sunday to the TTFA Disciplinary Committee report dated September 16 with a letter addressed to the general secretary Amiel Mohammed stating that: “The ruling, dated 16th September 2023, issued by the secretary of the Special Disciplinary Committee, Attorney Siddiq Manzano with the subject - Transfer and Fielding of Mr Derron John (Guaya United) seeks to prove that Guaya United transferred Mr Derron John from San Juan Jabloteh to Guaya United without approval, instead, the correspondence introduced itself by contradicting the ruling of the committee when it admitted that the TTFA erred in the process, then, it went on to make statements to sully the good name and character of Guaya United, with no basis or
proper explanation to justify its ruling, because there is none!”
The teams to contest the ‘Big Six’ include Tobago giants FC Phoenix, who took the top spot on the standings with 24 points from 10 matches, and Queen’s Park in second position with 23 points.
They are joined by third-placed Police FC (19 points), Petit Valley Diego Martin United (16), San Fernando Giants (14), and Harlem Strikers (13).