Pro League fights back.
By: Lasana Liburd (wired868).… All-inclusive Fridays coming to confound critics.
With little money, fewer friends and no sporting venues; the 2012/13 Digicel Pro League is preparing for another kick-off.
The season is scheduled to start on 7 September with what is likely to be a Super Friday double-header. There is no word on who is playing yet, though. Or even what clubs are taking part in the competition.
If that reality conjures up visions of disorder, then one would not expect to find at the centre of the storm a more unlikely person. Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene sees a completely different picture.
“The League is at a place where it is strategically positioned to attract investors to come in,” Skeene told Wired868. “We are at a stage where I am excited by the prospects.”
Never fidgeting, lowering his voice or losing eye contact, the 48-year-old CEO made no attempt to feign a bond with the interviewer by leaning forward in his chair. He just smiled.
“In an ideal world, the fixtures would be up,” said Skeene. “That is best practice. But given our circumstances with Jabloteh still trying to raise money and clubs wanting to come in, I think it would be foolhardy to not be as facilitating as possible.
“We want to give the Brent Sanchos and so on every opportunity to come into the League.”
As the League struggles to make an impact on Trinidad and Tobago’s armchair sport fans and clubs fight to stay afloat in the face of sizeable financial challenges, Skeene has his fair share of critics. Some say it is a minor miracle that the League endures and blame Skeene for that fact. It does not seem to have crossed their minds that they should instead be thanking him.
The League is often compared—unfavourably—to longer-established overseas competitions like the English domestic game and even the United States’ Major League Soccer (MLS). Its inability to provide more than a week’s notice for fixtures irks teams and supporters alike while the uncertainty about which clubs will compete next season has created an environment conducive to rumour-mongering and doomsaying.
Eternally optimistic and composed, Skeene sees these negatives merely as growing pains for a young competition.
According to him, the League was forced to delay word on next season’s participating clubs so as to give founding member San Juan Jabloteh every opportunity to find the funding necessary to stay in the competition. Jabloteh, once bankrolled by CLICO, lost its sponsorship deal with Adam’s Construction last season and was inexplicably bypassed for assistance by the Sport Ministry.
Moreover, League Chairman Larry Romany doubles up as the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) head and has only just returned from the London 2012 Olympics. And final word on participation cannot come until Romany convenes a meeting of the various club representatives to review the applications from potential Pro League teams.Read More