Dexter Skeene, chief executive office (CEO) of the T&T Pro League, has expressed disappointment but has said that there is no need to panic following the pullout of one of the most recognised clubs in the league, San Juan Jabloteh. Jabloteh, four-time Pro League winners, publicly announced its pullout of the competition, seven weeks before the start of the 2012-2013 season, via a press release, on Monday. The club stated that due to financial constraints it has had to suspend the operations of its senior football team “in efforts to restructure operations to bring revenue streams into approximate balance with the expenditure profile.” “It’s disappointing to learn of the decision of one of your long-serving clubs, but when you look at the whole picture, the prevailing economic climate and world football, you understand that this is normal in professional football,” said Skeene.
He further explained: “In Europe you have longstanding clubs, clubs with rich history like Rangers in Scotland having financial problems. In the (English) Premiership it’s no different with clubs having financial difficulties. “The Pro League is no different. It’s a relatively young league and the economic climate is challenging here as well. So what has happened to Jabloteh is that they are now looking at restructuring their business operations. It has happened with North East Stars and they have come back now even stronger. Ideally it’s something you would not like to occur, but we are seeing the positive side of it,” said Skeene. “Clubs have to come away from the thinking of just playing football and professional football being just on the field. It is surely enough what you do off the field will redound to your benefit on the field. It is something that we are looking at, and we would continue to have dialogue with Jabloteh to offer suggestions and solutions,” Skeene continued.
Last season Jabloteh finished fifth on the League standings, one of the lowest ranking by the former Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Champion, with a new head coach Earl Carter faced with challenging circumstances. According to Skeene, Carter’s roster was probably the thinnest behind St Ann’s Rangers, and according to the former US-based coach, it lacked both financial and personnel resources. “We have to look from within. We have to position ourselves to take advantage of opportunities which may present themselves. The management of the League is looking at ensuring that the League becomes self sustainable and viable in the long term. So we cannot continue to depend on handouts. We must be considered just as any other entertainment business.” “We must bring our product to the fans; we must make it marketable; we must make it something that people want to have in their living rooms, and a product that people want to invest in. But, it’s starting to improve because if we look at a key performance indicator, for instance in terms of our success at the club level, we are seeing now that two top teams (W Connection and Caledonia AIA) qualifying for the CFU Club Championship and we are going on now in the Concacaf (Champions’ League) where we would be playing against MLS teams and the teams in the Mexican league, so the clubs are doing something that is positive.”