North East Stars, the 2017 T&T Pro League champions are taking legal actions against the League.
A pre-action protocol letter was sent to the League yesterday, a week after the 'Stars' was suspended along with three other clubs- Police FC, Point Fortin Civic and Morvant Caledonia United for their failure to pay an annual $130,000 registration fee each which was due last season and another similar this year (2019).
At a meeting of the Board last week the quartet could not come up with the required $260, 000 which was needed to be paid by December 31, 2018.
Guardian Sports learnt that both Caledonia United and Police FC are still attempting to renegotiate a payment plan with the League to secure their entry, while Point Fortin, it is understood will miss out this year as they are unable to make the total payment.
Richard Fakoory, Chairman of the T&T Pro League said the clubs were allowed to make payments of $50,000 monthly until December 31 last year, with the intention of clearing off the balance of their debt by February 2019.
"Morvant Caledonia, Police and Point Fortin have made payments to date, but the North East club has not paid a single cent," Fakoory said, noting the League is expected to make a final decision soon.
The 'Stars' meanwhile will be taking legal proceedings against the League for its failure to honour an agreement to pay them $1,000,000 that represent their winnings for the 2017 season, which was expected to be used to cover its expenses, including the registration fees for both years.
North East Stars in their pre-action protocol letter from Attorney Barrie R. N, challenged a release by the League on November 7 last year, which stated the club was entitled to pay all its administrative fees as there were no prize monies to be had. The 'Stars' refuted this however and pointed to the minutes of the July 2017 meeting in which the participating clubs were told that prize monies were put on hold.
According to North East Stars, "The highlighted text is incorrect, as there is no resolution of the Board of Directors to the effect that Pro League Limited would no longer pay prize money to the Champions of the League. I am advised that you seek to rely on an innocuous statement in the July 27, 2017 Board minutes, which provided that 'the 2017 prize monies will be put on hold."
"Concerning this, and at best, “on hold” means the obligation of Pro League Limited to make a cash payment to the League’s champions will be deferred to a date to be determined. At worst, “on hold” means that any Board discussions pertaining to the issue of the payout of prize money to the eventual Champion of the 2017 League will be deferred."
"What is clear, however, is that “on hold” does not mean - by any contortion of the English language -
that the entitlement of the Champion to receive prize money (or drawdown in lieu thereof) had been terminated. Specifically, a decision to the effect that winners of the League are not entitled to prize money must be stated in clear and unambiguous terms and, in any event, cannot be made after the season had commenced and Clubs had already relied upon the promise to pay to their detriment by investing considerable time and money in the development of their teams with their “eyes” on the literal
Mike Awai, the 'NE Stars' Technical Director said the team, which was taken over from the previous owner Darryl Mahabir, agreed to play in the League based on an agreement made on or around 2014, that prize monies would be raised to $1,000,000 in order to attract and encourage greater participation in the League.
His lawyers noted, "In consideration of Pro League Limited’s promise to pay the prize money, football clubs have agreed too, to participate in the League, and Pro League Limited has derived several benefits therefrom, inclusive of the receipt of financial sponsorships."
Meanwhile, Fakoory said all clubs agreed that the 2017 season would have had no prize monies, and noted that Mahabir, who represented the club at the time, had agreed also. He believes Awai and company who took over the club last year, have misinterpreted what was meant by 'on hold.'