God said it was time! Ex-Pro League CEO Skeene reflects on potential, broken promises and lack of vision for local game

EPL Properties Ltd

He fought the good fight.

Those five words sound like the opening for a eulogy but TT Pro League fans are hoping that the departure of outgoing CEO Dexter Skeene will not mean the death of the local professional league.

On Friday, the 53-year-old former Trinidad and Tobago forward announced to the Board at a Pro League meeting that he proposes to move on, leaving behind the league he has led for the last 14 years. And although, Pro League club owners asked him to stay on for another month—perhaps hoping for a change of heart—Skeene says the die is cast. When he turns 54 on All Fool’s Day, Dexter Skeene will officially be the ex-CEO of the TTPL.

Photo: Defence Force players and staff celebrate with Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene (second from right, front row) after beating Ma Pau Stars to the First Citizens Bank Cup title at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 2 December, 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“Some people may have gotten a hint that it was coming,” Skeene told Wired868 on Saturday, “but they were surprised. And they asked me to stay on for a month and I said yes. I’ll be around to help with the transition process when the other person comes in.”

One short year ago, Skeene proclaimed that “The TT Pro League will overcome. We will prevail.” So was it some straw that broke the camel’s back? Or greener pastures that beckon?

KFC Munch Pack

Skeene says that there are things on the table but his decision was the result of divine intervention.

“I’m a Christian and every morning—or evening—I meditate and pray to God for guidance,” said the former Alcons and Maple standout, noting that 14 years in any organisation was a very lengthy stay. “He leads me and, […] with discussion and prayer, [I realised] it was time to move on after 14 years.

“I mean, football is my passion. I was trying to make a contribution to local football and, after 14 years, God is telling me to move on to other things and create some other pathways.”

“I have a youth club so I think I could spend more time with that,” Skeene continued, “as I think I have neglected that over the years. So I’ll be involved in that and I will try to bring my experience there as well as other things people have been discussing with me…”

Photo: Toyota marketing manager Sean Shaffie (left) and Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene sit next to the Toyota Classic trophy in 2013.
(Courtesy TT Pro League)

Skeene is not turning his back on the League entirely, though. He will remain available to provide whatever assistance of any sort he can and, once called upon, to assist the Board in any way he can.

“I told them I would be willing to assist wherever I can when it comes to Trinidad and Tobago football, particularly with the youth.”

Asked whether that meant that he would be working to get the 2018 Pro League season started at the end of March, as San Juan Jabloteh chairman Jerry Hospedales suggested to Wired868 on Friday, Skeene said the aim was to start in mid-April.

Hospedales also told Wired868 that discussions were still ongoing with Skeene and he was not entirely convinced that the Skeene decision was final.

What Hospedales and Skeene are convinced of is that the Pro League needs to be at optimum strength if this country wishes to see the best from its national team. So Skeene is hopeful that bright young people who are passionate about football—like he was a decade and a half ago—will step up and take responsibility for getting the Pro League back on track, which, he freely admits, is no mean challenge.

Photo: North East Stars flanker Kishun Seecharan (right) curls a shot around Central FC defenders Taryk Sampson (left) and Rhondel Gibson during Pro League action at the Arima Velodrome on Friday 8 September, 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

“I am confident there are young, bright people out there who will get involved,” Skeene declared.

As a bright, young Columbia University graduate a decade and a half ago, Skeene was approached by the then TTPL chairman, Larry Romany, who had a vision to make the League one essential element in a fruitful Trinidad and Tobago sports industry.

“When Larry Romany approached me 14 years ago, I told him ‘no’ because I did not want to be involved in administration really,” Skeene told Wired868, “He convinced me that […] for proper youth development, you had to have a proper pathway and a professional football league. And I said lemme give it a try.”

So his acceptance of an administrative role, he says, was really because he saw it as a chance “to give young men the opportunity to play and have professional football [and] be just like a doctor, lawyer or engineer who had a full-time job.”

Goal achieved? Not really. Why? There is no easy answer.

Skeene laments that the necessary vision is lacking.

Photo: Sport Minister Darryl Smith (centre) and Minister of Public Utilities Fitzgerald Hinds (second from right) meet players from Morvant Caledonia United before kick-off against W Connection at the Hasely Crawford Stadium training ground on 20 January 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“To me, it’s inconceivable how the powers-that-be could not use sport and something like football to unite people and get youngsters excited, to educate and to develop them.

“That has been mind-boggling to me. What I understand now is that, if you have never done it and you have never been involved in it, you can’t understand it. You could talk it but your actions will always reveal the true understanding that you have for the topic.”

The upshot is that successive governments have helped the League by providing monthly subventions over the years but that really is a reflection of their shortsightedness.

Citing the pivotal role Lamar Hunt played in getting Major League Soccer (MLS) up and running, he says, “We need football-friendly facilities in Trinidad and Tobago where you will upgrade fields in the communities,” Skeene said. “And we have identified them.”

“Over the years, the government has been saying, ‘yes, yes’ but they have never done it. My hope is that Government understands and […] puts the right measures in place so that we could have public-private partnerships just like the MLS did to have soccer-specific stadia, as they called it.”

Photo: Morvant Caledonia United captain Akim Armstrong (centre, in white) tries to hold off San Juan Jabloteh defender Aquil Selby  while Jevon Morris (right) looks on during Pro League action at the Morvant Recreation Ground on 16 October, 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

The clubs are not blameless, he implied, having failed to capitalise on government generosity to achieve—or at least to move towards—self-sufficiency.

“The most difficult thing is to get people to understand that it’s not just about playing football; it’s the business of football,” Skeene declared. “And part of the reliance on the government subvention […] it made people just focus on football because the money was easy.”

At the level of the directors too, the vision failed. Although the model has worked all over the world, those in charge did not really understand that success depends on constituting a solid fan base.

“It’s about a club being represented in a community and the fans having that emotional connection with a club,” said Skeene. “And from there the fan base will build and gate receipts will come and you will start seeing the revenue streams in terms of sponsorship, merchandising and television rights.

“[The MLS pioneers] understood what was needed to build a professional sport industry but we don’t have that. Here, we have businessmen who buy and sell.”

Photo: Police FC forward Jameel Perry (far left) celebrates his goal against W Connection with his brother Kareem Perry (second from left) during the TTFA FA Trophy final against W Connection at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 8 December, 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

So is there or is there not hope for the future? The former national player reckons that the current process of national belt tightening might bring benefits for football in the long run.

“It’s a good thing […] because now you have to focus on […] doing the right things to earn money to generate the revenue streams required for professional football. Those who intend to survive will have to do the right things.”

And after 14 years of often thankless toil, of preaching essentially the same sermon, Skeene is keen to do the right thing and leave the pulpit to the eulogists. And the critics.

Dexter Skeene has fought the good fight.

Photo: Then 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)


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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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  1. Hannibal Najjar

    The country is in turmoil and, SMS is the cause! Former Education Minister, College Principal, Community Builder, Religiously fair and balanced citizen, former sportsman, and member of one of our most deserving and celebrated selfless families, said to me a certain thing as he was simultaneously requesting to vacate his position as a member of the Holistic Development Committee (formed during my time as Technical Director/Head Coach, to be the think-tank to structure the future of our nation through, not only football but, all sports). He said, Hannibal, I am needing to devote more of my time to the FEEL (Foundation for the Enrichment and Enhancement of Life) operation that I am involved in. He said that in many ways he felt that he was a failure since the culture had gone astray and operated more from a mentality of “what is in for me” mindset. So, you want to know what SMS is the acronym for? Smart Man Syndrome. Clive was right and the solution to saving our country lies only in, changing the culture, step-by-step, relentlessly and with love, joy, patience, and self-control as the key keys to the task. Naturally, while this is put into stream by a group of think-tankers, a twin body of men and women must be working in tandem to gather the financial and other business planning support. Clive Best, my former UWI Economics professor, used to speak of, resource pooling and this is the other critical link here and one that is sorely missing. The next two emerging generations must be our focus – do or die! We have to refocus our efforts on them while we tackle the culture attitude that has torn into our otherwise peaceful and productive people-fabric. Baptism is the solution – getting rid of the old and putting on the new! Punto finale; khulas; Ya; No More; Nothing Less and Nothing else!
    To Dexter Skeene I say best wishes and may God continue to shower His blessing and guidance on you and your very deserving family. By the way Dexter, congrats on your beautiful daughter and her tennis successes.

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    I wish Nigel Myers could get this wuk.

  3. For sport to work in the fight against crime!..we have to get crime out of sport!..

  4. Even Patrick Manning acknowledged the unifying nature of sport when he got on the same platform as Jack Warner when we qualified for the World Cup.

  5. as usual nice article Lasana Liburd but quick question if allowed to ask..is this organization in the red or what is the starting point for the next person incoming to take the mantle???

    • Article 34 S6 TTFA Constitution Any candidate that wishes to become a member of the Board of Directors shall fulfil the following
      eligibility criteria:
      – Candidates shall have been active in football for at least three years during the five years
      preceding the election. This activity must have been performed in a managerial or a similar
      position in the territory of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
      – Candidates may not have previously been found guilty of an indictable offence.
      – Candidates shall be nationals of and shall have permanent residence in the Republic of Trinidad
      and Tobago.
      – Candidatures for the office of President and Vice-President of the Board of Directors shall be
      supported by at least one Member. Candidatures for the other positions of the Board of
      Directors shall be proposed by the Member they represent.
      – The candidate for the office of member representing the Women Association must be female.

      The constitution embodies the thought process that I believe flows down through the leagues and clubs causing part of the stagnation. Why don’t we have this same requirement for selecting National Coaches? It would support development of local coaches who based on the theories present are required to understand the local challenges. We do not because we want the best coaches that can give us the best chance to succeed, please note I think we have very good coaches locally. Imagine Carib not looking for the best brewmaster but the brewmaster that spent 3 of the last 5 years in beer but only in TnT. This section of the constitution is a barrier to entry, a form of protection for the status quo because it shrinks the pool of eligible candidates. I am not advocating for changing the requirement, I am stating that it supports or exhibits a mindset that is not open to ideas.

    • This sorely needs to be changed.

    • Why are we looking for a local, who most likely has no international experience in doing this, and therefore can’t lead us anywhere.

      A Pro League is an International product.

    • That in itself isnt a huge issue. I think understanding that limitation and compensating via inclusion of specific non football persons in any board or Ex Co role or other capacity would also be helpful.

    • Sheldon Scipio My post is from the TTFA Constitution not Pro League , I am not familar with provisions in Pro League Bylaws as I believe its organized under the Companies Act.

    • Same stupid restrictions. You want someone with international experience for that also.

    • Consultants are used everywhere when the requisite expertise is unavailable in house. Just have to know your limitations and understand budgets, etc.

    • It is gravely difficult to advise someone or a group, when their basic level of understanding is below what is required.

      The WICB, hired a company with experience to run the T20. Not saying it work perfectly. But at least they recognized that they don’t have the know how to do it.

    • Praying they are truthfully mindful and open minded to securing professional assistance in all the areas they need assistance. Won’t be easy but it can happen under the right circumstances.

    • The hardest thing for men to do sometimes is admit and accept help that they need.

      Too often they think it means they failed.

    • Sean Powder and that is the reason why I will continue to call them bootleg and pound them because our people feels that they knows everything and it is always the same things over and over always expecting. Different results and one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand why the team Guy a United will always continue to be successful and will always have their community support and for years I have been saying that our football belongs in the communities for example around every Christmas time Carenage VS St Ann’s home and away and if you does see the huge crowds around the field in Carenage eh and was the same model plans that Mr Arthur Suite had when he started back in the days in PSA grounds opposite the Long Circular mall that was eventually taken away from the surrounding communities eh to build condominiums eh and it is over 15 years or more they have yet to be completed and the whole idea was that every other communities wudda have their own fields where they wudda be making their own monies and poor peoples wudda me selling their foods and other things in order to make ends meet that same thing that I witnessed with my own eyes went I to see Morvant Caledona play at their home field and there was about 3000 people watching the game and people selling their foods to make some monies so let them all continue spinning the top in the mud and instead of our football getting back to where it should be the crimes murders and other madness will surely continue in our sweet country or and I almost forget to mention that had the football never left our communities our football wudda be on a way different level today with respect to plenty more of our players making it in the real professional leagues abroad and even some of our coaches especially if the Coaches Association was up and running many moons ago along with the Players Association that I always continue defending until the end of my days Them really good yes

    • Earl Mango Pierre how do you equate freeness with professional? 3,000 people at Morvant didn’t pay one red cent to watch that game. And all those local people selling food didn’t give one red cent to Caledonia. And that’s your blueprint for professional football? So why don’t you go to Shabazz and tell him that you will pay players out of your pocket? You pay them a decent living wage – maybe $7,000 per month each? Cool, so you’re paying out $175,000 per month on players yes. Then you need staff. You could hire one of your foreign coaches for maybe $20,000 plus accommodation and vehicle. So let’s call that a $30,000 pm package. Let’s pay your staff $7,000 across the board. Asst coach, youth team coaches X 3, equipment guy, Physio, manager, GK coach. That’s $42,000 pm. Then you want great admin so you’ll need an office, a secretary, phone, printer, WiFi. Let’s call that $11,000 pm. Now you want a marketing team. Let’s pay them $12,000 pm. But they’ll need a budget, and you’ll want each game filmed. So let’s give them $20,000 pm. Now the team needs water, ice, Gatorade, nutritious meals after training and games, medical supplies. Let’s say $6,000 per week. We’ll need good quality brand uniforms and training gear. Let’s call that $50,000. You want player insurance too. If you can get it here, that will cost maybe $25,000. And a team bus would be good, or at least a decent private bus. That’s up to $2,000 per game X 18 = $36,000 plus cup games too! If you qualify for CFU you’ll need another $100,000 per round. Champions League is the same. So that’s at least $400,000. So your Caledonia team that gets no income from home games is costing you around $314,000 per month plus another $511,000 per year in other costs. Of course, you’ll want to pay players in off season too so your total annual budget is around $3.75 million. Mind you, you’ve done this for free coz you and or your CEO haven’t taken a salary. And you’ve personally worked full time on your club. You would have probably bailed out at least one youth player from the police station and been heavily criticised in the press because you lost games or disciplined a player who was consistently absent or late for training. Or because Ministry of SPORTT cancelled your use of the field at the last moment. Of course, you can cut costs, but you don’t want that. You can get some free water, maybe a BOGOF deal on Gatorade. A shirt sponsor maybe? That’s currently bringing in on average around $50,000 per year. Some advertising signs (you’d have to get some guys to move and store them). You can’t sell players coz the overseas market is flooded so you pray for a sell on fee (don’t forget you have to pay solidarity and T&D fees if you do). Invest $50,000 to buy a stock of replica jerseys that may generate $15,000 profit. Don’t forget to pay your auditor and you’d also have an NI bill of over $100,000. So there you go. Give Shabazz a call!

    • Firstly Mr Harrison if the field in Morvant was properly surrounded by a fence or wall and there was an entrance fee the same like back in the days the same like when Mr Arthur Suite started his professional league in PSA field in Long Circular opposite the mall the people in Morvant surely wouldn’t have any problems with paying to enter to support their team and secondly you should be the last person presenting the stats about how much more monies it takes to run a professional team in our sweet country especially when you and your boss of Central FC continues to owe the Players like Marvin Oilver bonus monies and i wont even be surprised if Coach Dale Saunders himself is still owed plenty monies and you both continues to exploit the Players so I will never understand in a million years why you both continues to have a professional team in our sweet country maybe you. Should have stuck to the reason why you were brought to our sweet country and that was to make certain that the Players Association was up and running in order to always protect our dunce head players who knows nothing about the contracts You really good yes steeuuuppss

    • Hmm. Earl.. I asked the goodly gentleman a question yesterday about opening up the Pro League so it could be more transparent and he went quiet. Glad to see he is ok today.

    • Transparency would have provided the revenue because no one spending $4 million per year out of pocket year after year without revenue. Mr. Harrison where the other side of the equation

    • Alyuh doh get me wrong about him many times i will see him in POS up and down doing what he does best especially of where he came from and knows how to get things done and I really admires him for that because he reminds me of myself back in the days in my second sweetest country but it is really sad especially when his boss Brent Sancho along with Shaka Hislop and Kelvin Jack started the Players Association knowingly what they been through and other players before them has been through and here it is after they got their monies from the corrupt Jack Warner and the corrupted TTFA they just swept the Players Association under the carpet and to hell with our future younger generation who continues to be exploited because they comes from Carenage Lavantille San Juan the Beetham Sealotts and other well not to do areas so Mr Harrison can continue coming on wired volley and posting this and that when it is convenient to him and feels that he can always challenge me like if I have just arrived and doesn’t have a clue with respect to what has been taking place with our sports men and women since many moons ago and it will certainly continues if someone or somebodies doesn’t put a stop to it and Sean Powder is so right when he said that some folks in our sweet country feels that because we are now living abroad eh we doesn’t have a clue with what is taking place in our sweet country Them really good yes steeuuppsss

    • No professional team that is profitable, none, or professional league relies on gate receipts.

      This alone shows a failed model.

      They are business entities that create the right partnerships.

      In Denver the Nuggets play at the Pepsi Center, Pepsi put most of the money into building the great facility, they are one of r he Denver Nuggets partners, they get their money back through just the name being called on Tv and radio in 83 regular season games, it is the drink at the stadium, the stadium is not just for basketball, it is multi purpose.

      This is the genius of the owner, who owns 5 pro teams which includes Arsenal. They monies is made off TV rights.

      Again we keep asking dumb questions, you can count up expenses how you want and unless you are getting a full stadium 3 times weekly, you would be broke.

      In Spain, Real and Barca were forced to share there giant share of TV rights not to long ago for the survival of the league and other clubs.

      The IPL is worth billions in TV rights, that is where the real money is made.

      Fund out how much to advertise on TV during the superbowl halftime.

      So we are think wrong, and these people claim to know what they are doing.

      The MLS uses foreign stars to increase TV rights, that is how you use foreign players, every smart pro league does it. Note smart is the key word, yet locally you never hear that term used, it’s like they never heard of it. Last I heard the TV rights belong to Tony Harfod, we’ll what TV station does he own? Does he even know what to do with it?

      So what is needed a excellent BP, with this in mind, and a properly structured, legal registered properly to allow transparency league and clubs to allow for investors and partners. Then you have a league.

      Most leagues share the TV rights monies among teams according to where you finish, no prize money, and you earn TV rights at home games. This is why they build stadia.

    • These bootleg owners is only interested taking other teams developed players and then trying to sell them for plenty monies all over the world even in some professional bush leagues they were never really interested in the building of their teams in our sweet country by hiring the real professional marketing people amongst other things but only dependent on the government monies Them really good yes

    • Earl Mango Pierre it is illegal to charge entrance fees on Corporation community fields apparently. But even if you could (and some clubs do take round buckets for donations) it would cost millions to fence the facility which neither govt or Corporation are willing to pay. Of course we owe players bonuses. So why not help? Get 500 people outside Ministry of Sport and demand that they pay the money promised to Pro League since 2016. Then Central will get their 1.75 million prize money and be able to pay our debts! Finally, re the Players Association: You repeatedly bring up the fact that I and several others tried to form it. Why do you never mention that the players didn’t want to join it? And why, after all these years of talk have you, with your experience, not formed one? Instead of the constant negativity, do something about it. I failed. You may succeed. Instead of buying boots for players, use your generosity to start the Players Association. Plenty people here are willing to help apparently.

    • Sheldon Scipio I can state for the record that if you bring a TV company to cover Pro League as you’ve described, the Pro League would be grateful. Also, get us a stadium built too. Because to my knowledge, there is simply not enough people in T&T to warrant that kind of sponsorship. If these are your proposals, maybe that’s why they were rejected? How about something more realistic, something actually achievable?

    • BS, you missed my point, or lack all understanding, why do you think Shake built ESPN Caribbean

    • Brian Jordan I can’t release Pro League financials on my own volition. But I can tell you that the govt Pro League funding hasn’t been received since 2016, I believe.

    • Sheldon Scipio who built what?

    • Who runs ESPN caribbean?

      The TV rights of a Caledonia with Guyanese will not be just T&T, it will also include Guyana.

      And this means if your tram plays them the combined amount of television spectators, provided it is marketed properly grows exponentially.

      You continue to think in a box, this is the problem with the league, and continues to be the countries ”s problem, thinking too small, no imagination, rejecting things without proper research and analysis.

      Why do you think CPL sought foreign players?

    • You don’t what the proposal was yet you already rejected it.

      Leave me out of your mouth please.

      Trust me you don’t want me to start.

    • Kevin. Like I mentioned yesterday. That is part of it. Are you willing to change the constitution to open up membership to non voting advisory members of the public? That’s the direction that will help get interested parties off the fence.

    • Who is being negative eh and that is the problem with alyuh club owners always dependent on the government hand outs instead of being self sufficient hence the reason why the both sponsors SLS and the Bankers Trust when they realized that they were dealing with crooks they decided to pull out well I will be waiting very patiently to see how long your new sponsors themselves will stick around unless they are part owners to keep you and your partner in crime in check and about the Players Association doh hut up your head nor beat up because it will surely come to past in the right timing Alyuh really good yes Kevin Harrison

    • Earl Mango Pierre, continually points to a time when Teams filled Stadia locally, I was U 14 when I 1st went PSA and saw ASL, when the Arima velodrome sold out for Memphis vs Army.

      So don’t tell me we can’t fill stadia. Don’t tell me a TV network won’t cover that.

      People everywhere in this Caribbean won’t turn on their television to watch. How do you think Stuart Charles ended up here?

      We have just gotten lazyminded, because of Jack Warner’s FIFA monies, and become dependant on handouts, afraid to work, afraid to fail. So we rather wallow in mediocrity than really work for greatness.

    • And just to let you know that if Mr Brent Sancho had communicated with me about starting the Players Association because he knew that I had started it in Brooklyn N.Y. in 1992 in order to stop the exploitation against our players of wish I even took this individual to court and won it was only then the people in Brooklyn realized that he was a con artist that was only going around to different businesses soliciting plenty of monies and not bring any of it to the table for the Players and to help our sweet country win the Carribean Cup consistently the same like Jamaica who has won it over 15 years since it started in 1992 so Mr Harrison the Players would have surely joined the Players Association because they knew that they can Trust me and they wouldn’t even have to pay any fees that you all was requesting from them because I wudda taken care of that with my fund raising ventures that all they had to do was attend and of course the Players and their wives/ girlfriends never have to pay but tell their friends and family and I know that we wudda be successful while educating them about their contracts amongst other things and having the right lawyers to always protect them especially with alyuh owners who like to use them and does nothing for them especially when they are seriously injured the same like what JL Rochford who went through with respect to waiting over 18 months or more just to have his knee operated on and other players who also went through the same thing in the past years SHAME with all of you and by the way I wonder if he finally got the surgery completed because nothing was mentioned about it and if he still needs the help with his therapy etc etc ent Timothy Rochford Them really good yes

    • Earl Mango Pierre again, you talk the talk. Step up. Do it now. Please tell me in one short sentence why you can’t start your players union next week. And Sheldon Scipio please go and get ESPN or whoever you choose to televise games. Raise the production costs and fill the stadium. Just one point to you both: you will not succeed or gain respect until you desist from personal attacks. It just makes you look petty and small.

    • Brian Jordan again, that’s not my call. I can’t speak for the board. Personally, I’ve advocated for an independent sport commission comprised of local businessmen for several years now. So I can’t see why we can’t have non executive board members.

    • As long as you and other clubs are for more transparency and agitating the board for such, it should happen..

    • So now exposing the corrupted people that is involved in the beautiful sport and exploiting our players that is what you is calling it ” personal attacks ” eh Kevin Harrison and as I said before Alyuh really good yes

    • Mango, fellahs… Let’s try to keep it civil. If a Pro League club owner is sharing experiences, then that is a good thing because Wired868 is supposed to be about encouraging dialogue which hopefully leads towards change.
      I’ve written about unsavory issues at Central FC and elsewhere. But I still give them credit for three Pro League titles in a row and two Caribbean titles. That deserves respect.
      So let’s disagree civilly.

    • And yes I agree and they wudda continue winning plenty more if they had pay the Players the plenty of monies owed to them including their winning Coach Dale Saunders hence the reason why he decided like other players to eventually leave the club especially when they all knew that their owner the ex corrupted Sports Minister got over 5 million monies for his UNC Corrupted government of which he cudda cleared his debts with his dedicated and loyal players and Coach and you really feel that they will ever change because that is who they are and if I remember well you also wrote and article with respect to the reason why the same Kevin Harrison had to run from the Players Association in England and ended up here in our sweet country to continue his madness Them really good yes

    • Earl Mango Pierre can you send me a link to that story please. I’m always interested to learn new things about myself.

    • Well you need to ask the author eh Mr Harrison

  6. Keep in mind, you have to become transparent enough since the investors may come from outside T&T

  7. For the life of me I can not understand why people believe living in TnT is a pre-requisite for doing business and understanding how to do business in TnT. Chinese come and do business, Ridiculously inexperienced Canadians come and sell us boats and build huge complexes.. I guess they understand the landscape. Some say I over think it but it but I keep writing of the business of football and people keep speaking of some complex Machiavellian system of football in the country which can only be comprehended by living here. My point is that foreigners and locals are marketing goods and services to TnT nationals, we are a buy and sell country. Entire segments of our society became super wealthy importing for $5 and selling for $25. I believe that some of the football stakeholders use this believe about some mysterious system to hide incompetence and corruption. Brothers, I hear this about every industry in Jamaica, Bahamas, Ghana so when I hear it in TnT I am not intimidated. You think it easy to do business in Haiti, lol. Furthermore, the notion that if you do not live here you will not have all the information suggests that we may have a firewall around knowledge of football things in TnT. Frankly, when I talk to football people in TnT about the BUSINESS of football I find they do not understand the landscape. They can tell you who is who and who doing what but they have no 3yr, 5yr or 10 year plan for the business. I think the local football aficienados should view some of the comments as coming from a consultant, we are simply taking your watch and telling you what time it is.

  8. It’s clear that the ideas were there but execution was lacking

  9. Sean Powder…you definitely overthinked that one….you made it complicated wen Kester was being simple…..and if u dont live in Trinidad…then u will not hav all the info and hence not be able to connect alll the dots…

    • There are people here who can’t connect the dots. This is definitely not about where people live in my opinion, however, it is about how people engage with each other and collaborate, or the lack thereof, in my humble opinion. As a general rule, when any entity operates without regular stakeholder input, it will fail. Need people to get the majority of stakeholders pulling in the same direction. Transparency and accountability will also help turn this thing around.

    • Just my 5 cents: I, like many here, came with big ideas for the ProLeague. But having an idea is not enough. You also need a solution to implement those ideas and that, invariably costs money. And there’s the rub. Owners already investing millions out of their pocket just to compete on the field. People here saying the Pro League achieved nothing in 14 years. Really? 13 Caribbean titles in 19 years is nothing? All you can do is be the best in your region because to be the best in Concacaf requires massive budgets unachievable here. We all know the product can improve but it requires cash. Iceland govt invested US$100 million in sport – mainly football. Not only did they reach the World Cup, but their anti social youth crime fell dramatically. Miami built a stadium for Beckhams club. Panama introduces a tax to fund sport. Now they’re above us when in 2006 we spanked them. Yet the subventions is a bad thing? We have businessmen talking right here. Why don’t 3 or 4 of you get together, bring your money and ideas and invest in one of the clubs or sponsor the league? You would be welcome! But don’t come and say “pay a soca artist to perform at half time” We’ve tried lots of things: free entry for parents bringing kids, free beers, free T shirts, bouncy castles, half time competitions, spot prizes, free buses, free entry for senior citizens. Of course there are many ideas that may work, but once again, come with your implementation plans, your budget, your funding and we can map your KPIs, administer SMART tests to ascertain their viability, gauge the VFM element to judge its effectiveness. But here’s the easiest and simplest solution: how about if the 100 players and staff involved in a double header bring 10 people? And don’t ask for free tickets, yes. That would generate $30,000. Then 200 avid Wired supporters came along. That’s another $60,000. Because while critics are saying owners are asking for handouts while digging into their own pockets, players still expecting wages without helping to generate income. Their own friends and family not coming to watch them! And supporters want a better product but unwilling to invest $30. This is about ALL of us working together. Let’s stop playing the blame game and look at what we can do as individuals to help. This is the perfect time to reinvent professional football, so let’s do it together!!

    • Kevin. Are you and the other teams willing to be transparent and to be held accountable in every regard?

    • Brian Jordan as part of club licensing, all clubs have to submit their annual audits.

    • Also, due diligence requires full transparency so any investor would expect that.

    • Kevin. That is part of it. Are you willing to change the constitution to open up membership to non voting advisory members of the public? Would you allow all audited statements to be viewed publicly? That’s the direction that will help get interested parties off the fence.

    • Are these clubs entities with shares that an investor can have in return for his / her investment?

      Would they open their books for audit etc?

      Can someone bring 3 million and truly invest, not give you their money, invest sit on the board, assist with decisions on how and where their monies are being spent?

    • These are the exact foundation concerns; legal structure and financial statements. Many of the clubs are only now addressing basic components of the Companies Act, audited financials do not exist in many cases.

    • If they truly want investment they will make the necessary changes before even making a presentation.

  10. I have offered, sent in proposals, etc.

    They don’t want real assistance.

  11. Kester Lendor you mention Dexter giving up his corporate job as though he were a martyr or sacrificied himself for the local game. The Pro league is a corporation, it was and still is a corporate job for a CEO. Football is part of the sports industry, with many corporate entities the question is why aren’t those in charge handling the business of football. Furthermore, your comment suggests that the commentators on this medium have not previously offered services pro bono or for fee but consistenly ignored. Why would anyone on this forum offer the funky marketing now because the position is open when many have been ignored for decades. Do you really believe the interview process will be an open one?

    • Clearly u don’t reside in Trinidad and as is typical most see or read about what happens in the developed world and magically believe the same would work in this ‘backward patch ah bush’ according to Dr. M. Job.
      Soldier, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and everyone has a solution to run the TTFA, TTPL and the TTSL but unless and until those ideas are tried and tested within the local landscape they are essentially useless.

    • I am not sure what my country of residence has to do with the business of football. There are English clubs with American, Russian and Asian owners do those owners need to live in Britain? When KFC, McDonalds, Starbucks , Facebook and Digicel entered the TnT market did they have to live in TnT? Did they need some crystal ball to figure our a balance sheet, profit and loss, or basic marketing? When Hollywood is developing movies, Jay Z writing songs do they have to live in TnT to be able to understand the complexities? I see us buying Hollywod movies and external music in the millions. I find your rationale an excuse for incompetence. I think residency as it relates to the business of football has been a detriment not an asset..look at the performance. For the record I live in USA but have businesses investments in the Caribeean including Trinidad and Tobago; especially the backward patch ah bush in Tobago where I from dat doh have no fast ferry service so please safe your lip about not understanding. Lastly, like you forget all the American and European talent that powered our energy sector. What you should ask is what about us does not allow us to accept expert advice from our own whether local or foreign based?

    • Dude, do you have a clue about the football landscape on th3 island? What has been ur involvement in the local game? Are any of ur investments in anything related to sport here. You totally lost me with the analogies about Starbucks, Mickey Ds and the like.
      The point I am making is everyone seems to have a theoretical recipe to cure the Ills of football. Bredda when what ever ur theories are implemented and are proven to have worked here, then sell it. People are not going out to games and sporting events in general, period.
      West Indies cricket is probably the only exception.
      Have you been asleep, HS football unlike the past, mostly putting students in the stands.
      Guaya United is the only team in football that’s bringing bodies to games.
      I still trying to understand what on earth you talking about with Jay z and bollywood and how that remotely has any relevance to what I said. ?

    • Ideas have been put forward, foreign and domestic, and they barely understand or listen, so all are rejected, and seen as an attack on ownership. Simply because few, if any understand Sport business as a professional.

      Doubt me, try to approach them.

    • I don’t doubt you Sheldon, I’m saying show the leagues TTPL or TTSL by proving the ideas work by implementing them for a few seasons.
      If you were a team owner will you simply accept and implement a proposal from anyone?

    • Everything starts with an idea though. I think the more ideas, the merrier. It gives you options and you can stress test each one.
      I don’t understand when you say prove your ideas before you share it. That seems to be the reverse order to me.
      Would the Pro League stakeholders really prefer if people read these stories and just clicked to another page and didn’t comment at all?
      I think it is powerful when people take time to offer an opinion on something that doesn’t have a direct impact on their lives. The day that stops is when the Pro League is well and truly buried.

    • I agree with Kester that turning the state of football around is easier said than done. With that said, in one breath, Kester compares the TTPL to MLS and then berates others for making foreign comparisons and for not being here to understand the landscape. I think the point that is most prescient is that Skeene and company have been here and have not been able to get the TTPL to a place of self sufficiency after 14 years. More over, they have not impressed upon corporate or government stakeholders what their value proposition is. I truly believe that the whole structure of football has to change, whereby transparency and accountability aren’t just part of electioneering slogans and where low cost innovative development approaches must be undertaken, to turn around the on field product, even before corporate Trinidad & Tobago gets on board in a bigger and more sustainable way. Merging the TTSL and TTPL is one step I believe will help. Taking a look at tweaking the tax rebates mandated currently to ensure corporate T&T gets larger tax rebates for funding sports initiatives is another. It must be a multi-pronged approach, with all stakeholders engaged, and even though it won’t be easy, it must be done and the quicker it gets started the better for everyone.

    • How do you propose we implement these ideas to show that they work?

    • Have to get the right people in the right seats on the bus. Everyone has to understand the mission and what goals each layer is working toward, and within what timeframe. Everyone from leadership level on down has to honestly look in the mirror and either endeavor to work transparently and to hold themselves and their charges accountable or step aside. It starts there with personnel evaluation followed by mission and goal brainstorming to crystallize what standard operating procedures going forward look like. Need more data and process driven decision making Sheldon. Have to eliminate the kingmaking and ego driven stuff.

    • Gathering data was the 1st phase in our proposal, we explained there is no 1 size fits all remedy.

    • Strangely they all voted in agreement while we were in the room, and the following day, rejected ted it unanimously without an explanation.

    • Well. Maybe they can reconsider. These are proven business methodologies. At least gets you on solid footing to make decisions

    • They are not even answering phone calls, you had to call Skeene to be filtered through 1st. Hopefully when they meet, you can then get an audience.

    • I dare anyone to try and propose something, anything to this group that is not free.

    • They will not even take free or commission based upon agreed indicators.

    • I know they refuse commission based, that was the model we proposed.

    • So Sheldon then take ur proposal to the TTSL.
      That league is more entrenched in the communities and has the potential to attract more spectators.

  12. Kester, this is not a new situation. Many of us who according to you are spouting de funky marketing jargon, have offered our assistance from long time, from even before Facebook was in vogue.

    • Nigel yuh cyar confuse what happens in the US and think it’ll work here. MLS took 14 years to turn a profit and that is with an average attendance at the time of 15K and a TV deal. Sport in Trinidad is generally poorly attended. Even HS football if u remove the students from the stands there will be no one there. Track and field with our world rated sprinters will only put 1000 people in the stands for the national games.

    • What has been the average attendance of T&T Pro League matches? What methods have been tried to boost attendances? I truly want to know. What is/was the business model of the Pro League?

    • You realise that if the national team does not have Molino , Jones and the big name overseas based players on the national team the stands literally empty. But if yuh go to a village league game in Biche, Santa Cruz, Sobo, carenage yuh could full the entire ground.
      I’ve never worked at the TTPL so I don’t have a clue about their approaches but I was intimately involved with TTSL and even though this league more closely mimics the village league model Guaya United is the only team in the league to put bodies at games.

    • Palo Seco brings people out too… especially depending on the opposition…

    • Absolutely Cyrus, that was my bad. I’ve seen really good crowds at games in Palo.

    • Because those are the only players we know.

      Modern marketing share stories on players, showing their life, so people attached themselves to a part, and therefore can relate to said player. That way they want to see him / her play.

      I am 2 years removed, I don’t know who plays in the league, why would I want to go see them?

    • So since the professional league started 14 years ago how many of our players made it to the EPL and other real top flight professional leagues abroad and why hasn’t been any more players following in their footsteps in these times eh Them really good yes

    • Earl, there are no such plans in place. There are no agents attached, no club or league affiliations.

      This is the true job of the CEO, to build bridges.

    • Mr Arthur Suite should have been left to continue to do his thing many moons ago and our football today wudda never ended up in all this mess and the only one to be blame is the corupted Jack Warner and his cronies Them really good yes steeuuppsss

  13. I admire Dexter for trading his corporate T&T job to contribute to the local game.
    To those who continuously provide solutions on this medium, my advice is that u make ur selves available to be interviewed for the position so you may attempt to add ur bit to the local game. In fact, join with a TTSL club and implement all the solutions you write about. All the funky marketing jargon you so eloquently elucidate about here Let’s see how many spectators and sponsors you bring to the ball park.

  14. So through and the arm chairs coaches have a lot to contribute to its poor support to much want to be who feel they know it all.

  15. This is a Professional organization, they should not mirror the government.

  16. The behavior exhibited by this issue is deeply rooted in bosom of the Ministry of Education ,the Ministry of Sports .They have failed to recognize that there is a global force for sustainable social change through sports. We expect change in the behavior of our sports organisations ,yet we have the same non productive people holding top offices for decades. Example the TTOC,the NAAA ,Soccer, Swimming, Boxing,etc.A major issue is the nature of volunteering !

  17. The behavior exhibited by this issues

  18. You find it inconceivable when the Minister of Sports is not an avid sportsman but have his own private “sporting agenda”?

  19. I dunno what ah kpi is ….break it down to us smaller heads

  20. Its my humble opinion that we started the process if self sustainably 14 years too late. Government assistance should have only come in the form of youth development

  21. Brent why you trying to confuse people with KPIs, you trying to cause an aneurysm

  22. He made some interesting observations. What’s interesting though is that he didn’t say how he defines success? What KPIs does the pro league use to define his role or that of his successor.

  23. Let us look at this critically and objectively.

    Has the quality of play evolved to be better in the 14 year period?

    Now ask the same of the quality of coaching.

    The quality of the youths.

    This is the product that we have to sell, have we improved the quality of our product?

    Now has the quality of club management improved?

    Has the quality of the league’s management, marketing and public relations improved?

    These are the true questions to be asked and answered honestly and truthfully.

    Simple questions such as who comprises the marketing arm? Does the league after 14 years own and catalogue it’s media, or have rights to it? Does the league now employ it’s own camera and video team, do any teams have that? Are there even plans for that.

    Does the league have a video presentation showing growth etc to take to a partner, showing statistics and projections for the next 5, 10, 15 years, in all divisions including youth and ladies?

    This is just touching the tip of the iceberg.

  24. Where have gone, what have we achieved in 14 years.

    14 years of Professional Football what are the achievements?

  25. Good interview Roneil. You covered a lot of ground there. 😉

  26. When he says powers-that-be, who is he referring to? The club owners, corporations?

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