Elite League players feeling the brunt of impasse between clubs and GFF

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By Rawle Toney

Several players from competing teams in the STAG Elite League, are feeling the brunt of the standoff between the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) and six of the eight teams.

Devon Millington had scored the lone goal for Slingerz FC against Alpha United in June as the Vergenoegen-based club was crowned National Champions, after sharing Genesis and Finale titles with the ‘Hammers’.

Slingerz FC had a remarkable run; losing once in two years and will now, along with Alpha United, represent Guyana at the next Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship.

“Right now, the clubs don’t want to pay us. They’re saying that nothing is happening and they don’t know when the league restarting. How are we supposed to live? We have family to feed” one player said, who asked to remain anonymous.

League winners Slingerz FC, rivals Alpha United, along with Monedderlust, the Georgetown Football Club (GFC), Pele FC and the Guyana Defence Force are the teams against several changes proposed by the Guyana Football Federation (GFF).

A section of the crowd during the Genesis final between Alpha United and eventual winners Slingerz FC at the Leonora Track and Field Centre.
A section of the crowd during the Genesis final between Alpha United and eventual winners Slingerz FC at the Leonora Track and Field Centre.

Fruta Conquerors and Buxton United are the two teams in the GFF’s STAG Elite League.

In a letter dated September 14, 2016 the six aforementioned clubs wrote the GFF, pointing out a number of issues that they are not pleased with and have stated unequivocally that their desire is to continue the League as originally agreed to for the two-year cycle before effecting any changes which include drafting in two additional clubs.
The federation’s Executive Committee is accused of altering the rules with consulting the club which are also vital stakeholders in this historic initiative.

The GFF had announced that the league will move from eight to ten teams; adding Linden’s Topp XX and East Coast Demerara’s Victory Kings.

The Wayne Forde-led Federation had also said that they will squash the two-part league, with the new version going ‘back to basic’ – the team with the most points at the end wins.

However, while the GFF and their clubs are at obvious loggerheads, the players, especially those from Alpha United and Slingerz FC, are “feeling the squeeze”.

Guyana does not have a professional football league (though the GFF’s vision is to have the Elite League be the first), it is public knowledge that Slingerz FC and Alpha United are the only two clubs where over 95% of their players are paid.

“The thing is, the players aren’t being paid right now because no football is being played, but, the organisers coaches and others are getting their money regardless” the player said, who also is a member of Guyana’s senior National football team – the Golden Jaguars.

He added that “these people can’t make up their minds and it’s affecting us seriously. Almost five months now, no football. The Clubs are holding their grounds and so too is the GFF. The Federation do not care about the product. You mean to tell me, after five months, they can’t make up their minds?”

While efforts to reach Forde proved futile, the GFF boss had earlier indicated that the matter was sent to FIFA and CONCACAF them to help in the legality claims, since much of it is centred around the Constitution.

 

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