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Phillip: Unsuccessful SPORTT meeting was final straw; ex-Pro League chairman wants more family time

Former Pro League chairman Sam Phillip said a disappointing meeting with the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) earlier this week was the final straw in his decision to quit the football post.

Nine months ago, the Pro League submitted to SPORTT a proposal regarding the government subvention for clubs—which fell from TT$80,000 to TT$50,000 to potentially zero—and access to community fields. However, according to Phillip, SPORTT officials informed the League that the document never reached Cabinet and invited the local football body to re-submit a proposal

Photo: Prime Minister Keith Rowley (centre) greets SPORTT chairman Dinanath Ramnarine (left) while Sport Minister Darryl Smith (right) looks on during the opening ceremony of the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium in Tarouba on 12 May, 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Phillip stressed that he bore no ill-will towards SPORTT or the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs. But he decided there and then that it was time to part ways with the Pro League.

“If the only thing you can report to your Board is negative, then the only thing left to do is resign,” Phillip said. “We are [still] eternally grateful to the Ministry of Sport [and Youth Affairs] and the Sport Company for all the assistance we have received over the years.

“[…] Now that [Pro League CEO] Dexter [Skeene] is going, it is time for me to go as well.”

Dexter Skeene quit as Pro League CEO on 2 March after 14 years in the post; six days later, Phillip opted to follow him.

A former Trinidad and Tobago national football team manager and current Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) executive, Phillip only became Pro League chairman in June 2017 when then chairman Larry Romany—the former Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president—quit suddenly.

Then the Pro League’s deputy chairman, Phillip was elevated—temporarily, according to the initial plan—to the vacant post. The Board decided to leave him in the post but he has now had enough of the job.

Photo: Police FC goalkeeper and captain Adrian Foncette (top) leaps high to try to hold on to the ball between teammate Nequan Caruth (left) and W Connection attacker Marcus Joseph 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)

Like Skeene, Phillip said he remains ready, once called upon, to serve local football and the Pro League in an unofficial capacity. At present, however, he wants to devote more time to his family.

“I have resigned from certain positions but I am not totally out of football,” said Phillip. “I do not serve football to see what I could get. I serve football to see what I could give.

“[…] Now, I will be able to give more time to the office [of the TTCB] and my family. I have two girls and now I have a grandson who is very dear to me.”

So what now for the Pro League?

St Ann’s Rangers owner Richard Fakoory, Morvant Caledonia United boss Jamaal Shabazz and outgoing CEO Skeene all declined comment. Fakoory pointed out that the Pro League Board meets again on 14 March and should plan its next step then.

However, San Juan Jabloteh chairman Jerry Hospedales insisted that the Pro League will survive the current turbulence.

Photo: W Connection attacker Hashim Arcia (left) collects the 2013 Charity Shield MVP award from Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene.
(Courtesy Wired868)

“If you leave your occupation, would the organisation crash?” Hospedales asked rhetorically. “No, it will not crash once the proper structures are in place. As I said before, the Pro League will continue; it plays a significant role in Trinidad and Tobago football.

“Efforts are being made to put things in place. I can’t say exactly what at this point but […] we are evaluating the situation and, given the requirements of CONCACAF, we are doing all we can to ensure that a proper professional league is in place.”

Hospedales declined to say when Skeene and Phillip will be replaced. But he was adamant that there will be life after both administrators.

“We are going to miss Mr Skeene but he has been in the organisation for 15 years,” said Hospedales. “This is what happens; leaders come and leaders go. Give us some time.”

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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11 comments

  1. Maybe Andre Baptiste should explain to Sam Phillip what the phrase “last straw” means.

  2. Keith Look Loy we know but we have to at least put it out there hoping that those few within the football politics that read some of these comments may by some magic hear the desperate cry. Otherwise we have to hope for a Phoenix rising from the ashes.

  3. …The proposals people advancing here not based in the reality our football politics and are rooted in the incorrect presumption that the powers are guided by football expertise, business acumen and common sense..

  4. Well simce the The Lottery board is finally on board eh and they gave about 10 million monies for the Youth Development program eh they should just continue and give all the pro teams 1 million monies each year and also put up the prize monies to 2 million I mean so say look how they are presently rolling over the present lottery prize eh that is now about 28 million of monies eh and if they want to they can roll it over until it reaches 50 million monies and so far they must take in about 500 million from the people who trying to win the millions and if this is done nobody don’t even have to go to the stadiums and watch the football they just have to continue to play the lottery eh Them really good yes

  5. It maybe better for the Pro League to approach SporTT and MOSYA with Super League and TTFA to provide a strategic plan for football instead of re-submitting a proposal for 10 clubs. Politicians tend to pay attention to numbers; either campaign dollars or votes.

  6. Buh A A Sam Phillip finally quits to eh ah wonder who will be next Them really good yes

  7. ..”Efforts are being made to put things in place…I can’t say what exactly..”..

  8. What is funny it that this outcome was predicted many many years ago

  9. They have no clue, you can’t keep proposing the same plan.

    I have yet to hear something new, something new.

    They all keep repeating the same words, “the pro leave must Survive “.

    Is this a mantra said at meetings?