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No Govt help for new teams in Pro League

Thursday, February 11, 2016
TT Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene

Teams seeking entry into the T&T Pro League must show that they are able to stand on their own financially or else it will not be considered. 

Invitations for interested teams are being advertised in the media but the league’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dexter Skeene stressed they will be assessed on the basis that they can fund themselves privately, without the assistance of the government. Eight of the ten competing teams in the league receive subventions of $80,000 monthly to help them cover salaries for players. 

The teams Club Sando, W Connection, Point Fortin Civic Centre, St Ann’s Rangers, Caledonia Morvant United, North East Stars, Central FC and San Juan Jabloteh all receive this assistance from government through the Sport Company of T&T and only recently they told the media they could not survive when monies were withheld for three months. Yesterday, however Skeene said the attempts are being made to make the league and its participating teams self sustainable, saying government assistance will soon be a thing of the past. 

“As teams attempting to enter the league are being asked to be privately funded totally, so too the teams in the league have been asked to wean- off of government assistance” Skeene said. He did not give a time frame of when this will become a reality, but said the league had a discussion with Minister of Sports Darryl Smith recently and it was positive. 

“The minister understood us and has agreed to upgrade the fields in the various communities on a phase basis. This will provide opportunities for teams to utilise these facilities to generate monies at the gates as well as other money-making avenues such merchandising and other innovative means” Skeene said. 

The idea he said will be to gradually ensure that the teams are generating enough to pay their expenses before they say no to the government subventions. 

Teams interested in playing in the country’s top flight football competition will be required to provide an entrance fee of $400,000 and a business plan of how it will provide salaries to its players, as well as cover other expenses. They must also have a youth develoment programme. 

The league will most likely be increased by two teams to make it 12 participating clubs, but Skeene pointed out “When we do our assessment then we will determine if the league will be increased by two teams or not.” 

From the 10 competing teams, there will be no demotion for this season, which is where the league is hoping to be in the future Skeene said. 

He dismissed claims by those who feel that the league should seek financial stability first before recruiting more teams. “The league continues to be the vehicle by which young footballers are given the opportunity to earn a living by playing professionally. It also provides a platform for aspiring footballers to be the best that they can be and access the top teams in Europe” Skeene explained. 

The pro league boss also sees the league as an opportunity for potential investors to put their name and money on a local pro league team.