SLFA Looks to Implement Semi-Pro League

By Reginald Andrew

PRESIDENT of the St. Lucia Football Association [SLFA] Lyndon Cooper has indicated it is inevitable that a ‘Semi-Professional League’ (SPL) will be established on island, once the requisite measures are put in place.

However, he said, the SLFA will require support from the corporate sector and government authorities for this venture to pull through.

Lyndon Cooper SLFA President.
Lyndon Cooper SLFA President.

Speaking at the SLFA’s 34th congress, last Saturday, Cooper disclosed that the Association has committed the sum of $500,000 towards the initiative. He said the SLFA would seek backup funds from the business sector to help achieve that goal.

Cooper said it is important to make the SPL product a marketable brand and reiterated that the association is actively pursuing the establishment of such a league.

“There is no time frame but the reality is for us to be able to build on a pool of experts we have. We will have to establish this venture, rather sooner than later,” he declared.

Though the FA president could not give a definitive time frame for implementation of such an initiative, nonetheless, he explained that the SLFA has already formatted a structure and it is now more adept to putting the requisite resources in place and to find the partners.

Cooper said the $500, 000 lump sum allocated for this venture is to ensure a ‘trial run’ for the SPL. He said the original concept was for the government to put in 50% of the resources required and the SLFA would provide the other 50% towards the venture.

“We would then face the private sector to complement it, just to ensure that we understand what has to be done,” said the SLFA president.

He added: “Now we know that the government has changed, it is something that has to go back on the table for discussion.”

Cooper said the structure or format for the SPL would involve the Inter-District competition that has been sub-divided into Divisions I and II.

“The intention behind the concept is for us to develop those 19 teams into semi-professional clubs with a legal entity, where they could begin to contract players and compensate them,” he explained. “So, it’s a long process in order for us to attune the legal framework in order to establish it moving forward as a fully-fledged semi-professional league,” he added.

However, Cooper noted, the SPL would not be able to function solely under the prerogative of the SLFA and so, moving on, the FA would seek the support of the corporate sector.

He said the FA would be pushing with proposals for partnership arrangements with prospective business entities.

Cooper anticipates that the process to fully establish this institution, independent from the SLFA management would take at least six to seven years.

He said though the SLFA attempted to ‘kick off’ the venture , last year, however due to the COVID-`19 pandemic it had to be shelved.

“We are kicking it off (again) in September, which is playing matches, but it is not going to be a semi-pro because players are not going to be paid. We will not be able to make the leagues into clubs in order to create a legal entity so that they could begin to contract players,” he said.

Cooper says the SLFA remains fully committed to establishing a semi-pro league on island as a feasible project that would help enhance the development of the sport here, and for players to get acquainted with the ‘semi-professional’ mode of play.

He asserted: “The SLFA is the one pumping that first $500,000. So, once the other $500,000 from the private sector is on board then it makes the process simpler to understand.”

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