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Pro League owners want Skeene to stay; Hospedales: No Pro League, no Hex

With its 2018 season already hanging in the balance, the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League is now without a CEO.  Dexter Skeene, who has held the position for the last 14 years, tendered his resignation to the Board at yesterday meeting of the League and informed them that he proposes to vacate the post in a month’s time.

When contacted, Skeene indicated that he was not able to comment at the moment and would speak with Wired868 later.

Photo: Central FC captain Leston Paul (right) holds the 2015 Akeem Adams trophy for winning the final round.
Teammate Ataulla Guerra (centre) lifts the Pro League trophy while League CEO Dexter Skeene looks on.
(Courtesy Alllan V Crane/Wired868)

Pro League chairman Sam Phillips and general secretary Julia Baptiste both suggested that Wired868 should speak directly with Skeene himself and get first-hand feedback from him.

But Pro League club owners are seemingly not prepared to let Skeene go without a fight and several of them seemed to think that the former Strike Squad footballer was still in active discussion with Board members to find the best way forward for the cash-strapped League. One went so far as to say that he is “not convinced that Skeene’s decision is final” although he was careful to add that he had arrived late for the meeting.

Speaking to Wired868, San Juan Jabloteh’s chairman Jerry Hospedales stopped short of assuring that, notwithstanding the new development, the Pro League will get underway soon. However, he said that a decision could potentially be made at the end of March after more discussions are held.

Hospedales’ comments clearly conveyed his view that the Pro League is worth fighting for because, according to him, if Trinidad and Tobago wants to be a CONCACAF Hex team, it cannot manage that without a properly functioning Pro League.

“The improvement of Trinidad and Tobago football is dependent on the [survival] of the Pro League,” Hospedales said. “We are not going to qualify for the [CONCACAF] Hex stage and remain a Hex team without a functioning Pro League.”

Photo: San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis (left) terrorises Cibao FC right-back Ernesto Trinidad during the Caribbean Club Championship final on 21 May 2017 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Morvant Caledonia United owner Jamaal Shabazz told Wired868 he thought his “time to be quiet” was here and Central FC’s Brent Sancho declined comment, suggesting that the media too often misconstrue his statements.

One Pro League CEO who agreed to discuss Skeene’s importance to a League which has been struggling to stay afloat following Government’s stoppage of a monthly $50,000 subvention, would only do so on condition of anonymity.

“[Dexter Skeene] has been the backbone of the Pro League for many years,” the club owner said. “We are still in discussions with him.”

He insisted that the stakeholders in local football—administrators, club officials and media—need to bind together in order for the local game to get beyond this challenging period.

“There must not be talk of this is my thing and this is he thing,” he said. “This is our thing.”

Like his fellow owner, Hospedales is not entirely convinced that Skeene’s decision is set in stone either. And he feels that, whatever the outcome, Skeene’s many years of hard work should not go unrewarded.

“I do not have all the answers but I’ve been in the business 40-plus years and I hope to pass it on to somebody.”

Photo: Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene (right) is in deep conversation with former Trinidad and Tobago standout Ron La Forest at the inaugural Wired868 Football Festival in 2013.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/ Wired868)

Hospedales indicated that Skeene and the club owners are still working in tandem to try and get the Pro League through “a difficult period.”

“The Pro League is going through some transitional changes right now,” Hospedales said. “All of us are moving to see how we can mobilise resources […] financial resources, all kinds of resources.”

Hospedales noted that it has been difficult to get sponsors on board with the League, which has been around for 15-plus years, so that the League –-and, by extension, Trinidad and Tobago football—is crying out for assistance—mainly financial.

“We are in constant discussion with business people,” Hospedales said, “but the economy is not giving us much comfort.”

Like Hospedales, Skeene has been fighting the good fight, and it still remains a mystery as to what exactly was the straw that broke the camel’s back. For the past few years, the once nimble attacker, who was a standout for teams such as Alcons and Maple back in his heyday, repeatedly told all who would listen that the Pro League had to soldier on despite the financial struggles and its inability so far to achieve self-sufficiency.

Photo: TTFA president and W Connection owner David John-Williams (left) presents the winning cheque to his daughter and Connection director Renee John-Williams after their FA Trophy final win over Police FC at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 8 December 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Just last year, the Columbia University graduate and SKHY FC co-founder said the following:

“Predictions and rumours of the demise of the TT Pro League are indeed premature […] The TT Pro League continues to strive to become self-sufficient. The League has survived difficult times before and will survive these rough times. The TT Pro League will overcome. We will prevail.”

According to Hospedales, Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams “understands the importance of the Pro League” and “has been very helpful” in its fight for survival. John-Williams is owner of W Connection although the club is at present run, he says, by his daughter, Renee John-Williams .

The TTFA is itself not in the best of financial health at present, as is much of local sport while the John-Williams-led board is yet to have its 2016 audit approved by the general membership.

About Roneil Walcott

Roneil Walcott
Roneil Walcott is an avid sports fan and freelance reporter with a BA in Mass Communication from COSTAATT. Roneil is a former Harvard and St Mary's College cricketer who once had lofty aspirations of bringing joy to sport fans with the West Indies team. Now, his mission is to keep them on the edge of their seats with sharp commentary from off the playing field.

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34 comments

  1. The Pro League is an abyssmal failure…there are bigger crowds at T-10 community cricket

  2. I have admired D Skeene’s ascendency and leadership in this level of football bringing great and accountable administration to the game but no institution more so our sporting organisations should be without succession planning. We must also review what outcomes have and may not have been achieved involving the next generation. To still talk about the irreplaceable role of administrators which has become synonymous with Trinidads management culture at ALL levels is a sad and failed admission. There are young people who must be given a chance especially in the peak of their years.

  3. Well i did venture the idea of establishing a franchised CFU Pro League during in a comment on a recent interview with Jamaal Shabaaz following the disappointing TT performances in the CONCACAF Women U20 World Cup Qualifying Championships.
    Don’t be surprised if that happens to materialize sooner rather than later.
    An interview with TTFA president DJW on the issue might reveal the status of any such initiative.

    • If you think a Pro League is difficult to run, I think a Caribbean Pro League would be five times as difficult.
      I know DJW wants it. And it would be fantastic if it works. But I’m skeptical that it can overcome the obvious pitfalls.

    • It will fail if this is the model

    • Don’t think there is enough erudite football knowledge people in administrative positions in Caribbean unlike cricket to run a Caribbean pro league for one

      Nor enough proper professional clubs in region

    • Your skepticism might not be without foundation, Lasana.
      However, with appropriate FIFA backing, it can overcome those hurdles – the obvious ones being air travel and accomodation for home and away matches.
      Cricket has met and hurdled those challenges.

    • Siewdath Persad fair point there

    • Cricket has always been regional between countries.

      All cricket has done is start T20.

      There had always been this type of cricket at a national level, and now they have brought it to another level.

      Is football willing to do that. It would mean 1 pro team per country. Who owns these cricket teams? Remember WICB got this going, there is no such body in football.

    • West Indies cricket has some of the best limited overs players in the world. We can offer a product that can rival anything on the television.
      Football cannot come close to even second and third tier leagues like the Dutch.
      That’s why I think comparisons with cricket don’t work.

    • Lasana Liburd 100% agree and in a lot of ways the pro league experience showed us fairly clearly that without major stars crowds won’t come out. Although the pro league always was poor at marketing league

      However on the minor upside -Jamaica seems to do a decent job of getting crowds for their red stripe premier league games that Sportsmax shows last few years though

    • How about we start with secondary school champs of champs… then go from there… how Mel Gibson did say in The Patriot? “… aim small, miss small…” SportsMax is already on board with SSFL Coverage

    • Shawn because of Netflix and free streaming sites, people don’t turn to TV6 and CNC3 for foreign content anymore. And now those stations are finally desperate for local content.
      If Michael Samuel and them reintroduced those old soaps, they would be golden now! Lol.
      Fact is there is a big opportunity emerging for local content including sports on television. They have to see that and plan to suit.

    • Siewdath Persad Yuh need to do ah litle background investigation about the Caribbean Pro League that was tried before and why it was a disaster and here came again in the year 2017 another attempt was made to start another CPL the same like the cricket CPL and another failure again because Mr. Chris Anderson never came through as usual so let’s see how the millionaire who has plans to start a professional league in Surinam sometime soon and hopefully some of our players can also ply their trade over there Them really good yes

  4. DISCUSSIONS????
    Pay the man he forrrrrrrrkin money and then we can smalls bout DISCUSSIONS
    steups.
    Skeen! Bro! yuh stay a lot longer than many would have.

    • Ent. Unless they want a pro league with an amateur CEO. Ten clubs. They have to each dig and give the man something. Or else what they expect?

    • Lasana Liburd i understand he hasnt been paid in NINE months?
      hoss….thats how long it takes to bring a child into the world!
      yuh know how many Friday nights it have in 9 months that you hadda watch yuh wife and say: “Sorry babes…no pizza…I still ain got paid yet…”???
      How they could do the man that and then wasnt to DISCUSS any gattdeeyam thing?
      That is level disrespectful.

    • While I hear you on disrespect, if someone chose to stay 9 months without pay, then they can partially blame themselves too. I don’t know where the 9 months comes from but any unpaid salary, whether one month or 9, is disrespectful, and whether it is owed to a CEO or to a player.

  5. I have nothing against dexter but after all these years there isn’t much to show and the pro league has been declining in recent years. Maybe it’s time for fresh blood and ideas. Maybe the owners can come together and chart a course with outside help. After several attempts the mls has taken off, So too many leagues in central and south America. Wouldn’t hurt to adopt some of their strategies.

  6. Well I wudda done the same thing especially when I am being owed over $30.000 monies per month for a couple of months and I have my family to feed and my new car note bill and other bills to pay eh Them really good yes steeuuppss

    • And since it was the corrupted Jack Warner who was the one who started the professional league in our sweet country in order to make plenty millions of monies while organizing the youth World Cups and other businesses that made him become a millionaire eh he should help the crumbling professional league with some of the millions that he have stashed away especially when his right hand man Sam Phillips who is still involved in the league and who once told me that he don’t want the white plane to come and pick him up to return him to my second sweetest country to face the courts and then plenty jail time because JW never stole any monies from my second sweetest country eh and also the CEO who was also in his corner and made certain that he was placed as the CEO of the league because of his family ties eh there wouldn’t be any need for the government to give them any more monies to continue to do their thing Them really good yes

  7. I guess he did what he could mr Earl mango Pierre and now he is seeing it fit to pass the baton to someone else

  8. Earl, somebody has to take the blame.

  9. And can someone please inform me of what hard work that the owner is speaking about that the CEO accomplished? Because of what I read in another one of Mr Live Wire article he really didn’t have any kind of power to make any kind of decisions for the league, so I will be waiting very patiently for a response eh Them really good yes

  10. Really Jerry Hospedales the football will crumble if there is no professional league and you all want to pay the players $3000 monies a month while alyuh owners always going to the banks smiling eh Them really good yes

  11. Jerry still part of Jabloteh.. wow