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What is the Trinidad & Tobago Pro League?
The TT Pro League or the TT Professional Football League is the professional league for associations football clubs in Trinidad & Tobago. This is the country’s primary football competition as works as the top division in the Trinidad & Tobago football league system.
This is one of a few football leagues in the world that does not operate on an automatic system of promotion and relegation. A season often runs from September to May, with the participation of 10 teams playing 18 games each in a total of 90 games. Most matches are played in the evenings of Friday (Super Fridays) and Saturdays (Fiesta Saturdays), with some games played during weekday evenings.
TT Pro League
The clubs in the Pro League also play in other domestic competitions such as the FA Trophy, League Cup, TOYOTA Classic, Goal Shield, and Pro Bowl against domestic clubs from other divisions. Besides, the teams also play against other teams from other countries in the CFU Club Championship, the CONCACAF League and the CONCACAF Champions League.
On 5 January 1999, the Pro League was first introduced under the name Professional Football League. It was renamed the TT Pro League three years later. The foundation of the Pro League is a part of a need for a professional league to strengthen the country’s national team and improve the development of its domestic players. Its headquarters is located in the northwest region of Trinidad and Tobago in St. Augustine.
Currently, the league is sponsored by Digicel and thus officially called the Digicel Pro League. Since 1908, there have been a total of 24 clubs crowned the champions of the Trinidad & Tobago football system. Of the 22 different teams who have competed in the TT Pro League since its inaugural season, six teams have won the title: W Connection (6 titles), San Juan Jabloteh (4), Defence Force and Central FC (3), Joe Public (2), and North East Stars (2).
W Connection celebrate their victory in the TT Pro League
Corporate Structure of the TT Pro League
The Pro League is run like a corporation and is owned by ten member clubs known as T&T Pro League Limited. Each Pro League team is required to have a board of directors, chairman, chief executive officer, administrator, managers and assistants of branches, physiotherapist, and a youth development officer. In addition, each team is defined with a standard home venue. The clubs also have to guarantee their financial stability in the league.
The Pro League has recently taken several steps to establish itself as one of the premier leagues in CONCACAF.
How is the format of the TT Pro League?
During the course of a league season, 10 clubs play against other teams once home and once away in a double round-robin format, for a total of 27 games. The teams get three points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and zero for a loss. The team having the best point at the end of the season is crowned the champion. If total points are equal, then indexes of goal difference, goals scored, head-to-head records are used to determine the ranking. If there is a tie for the championship or for qualification to other tournaments, a playoff at a neutral venue decided the rank.
There is not any promotion or relegation between the Pro League and the National Super League (the second tier). Club members of the top league vote to decide which, if any. Promotions from the second division into the league will be often allowed with preference given to the Super League champion.
The T&T Pro League organized 4 knockout cup competitions each season named the League Cup (the First Citizens Cup), the Digicel Pro Bowl, the TOYOTA Classic, and the Goal Shield (the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield). Besides, Pro League clubs also compete in the annual FA Trophy which is run by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association.
Since the 2006 season, qualification rules have been changed to allow to Pro League two automatic berths into the CFU Club Championship. The two best teams of the Pro League in a season enter the CFU Club Championship in the first round, which is played in a single round-robin with each group winner advancing to the final round. Since the inception of the CFU Club Championship, the winner of the competition has qualified for the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup.
In the 2012-13 season, CONCACAF announced a new format under the name Champions League. According to that, all teams begin to play in the group stage (eight groups of three), which includes each year's top three Caribbean finishers.
- In 1999: Craven A (Craven A Professional Football League).
- From 2000 to 2009: No sponsor (Professional Football League (until 2001) and then TT Pro League).
- From 2009 to 2017: Digicel (Digicel Pro League).