JOSEPH SAM Phillip, former manager of the Trinidad and Tobago 2006 FIFA World Cup football team, dubbed “the Soca Warriors”, has stepped from his role as chairman of the TT Pro League.
This is the second major resignation from the administrative arm of the embattled League, since Dexter Skeene announced his decision, last Friday, to move on from the post of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on April 1.
The League has been dealing with serious financial pitfalls with Government subventions to the eight community teams as well as its administrative body being curtailed, while 2017 title-holders North East Stars have implemented a wage structure for players, who will receive a maximum monthly salary of $3,000.
Phillip, in his letter of resignation addressed to Skeene, TT Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and TTFA general secretary Justin Latapy-George, indicated his decision to move on from his Pro League role, as well as chairman of the TTFA technical committee and a TTFA board member “with immediate effect”.
Phillip wrote, “This has become unavoidably necessary due to my added responsibilities attached to the office which I presently hold, thereby limiting my availability to honour my commitment in the organisation.
“It is only prudent therefore, given my new constraints and my desire to ensure that the organisation continues on the path of success, I reluctantly take this step,” continued Phillip, the former national team striker and general manager of the defunct Joe Public FC.
When contacted for a comment yesterday, Phillip declined to state his new career path, but he pointed out that, after 57 years of service to TT football, both on and off the field, he is looking to commit more time to his family.
However, he expressed mixed feelings towards the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT).
Phillip admitted, “We had a meeting (on Thursday) with the Sports Company. A request (was) made last year for a note to go to Cabinet, to the Minister of Sport, for the subventions to continue, so we can get some training fields in the community, for two to three years and, after that, we can float on our own.
“Coming out of that meeting, I was shocked to know that that note has not been taken to Cabinet,” he continued. “I’m fully aware of our financial constraints in the country but, if you look around, you’ll see other sports getting sums. I’m not jealous of them but I think we all could get a little leeway.”
On the flip side, Phillip said, “I’m eternally grateful to the Sports Company for the support they have given to the Pro League, and football in general.”
There has been talk about the need for the Pro League to reinvent itself in order to survive in these trying times, and it is a view shared by Phillip.
“The Pro League would have to do some remodelling,” he noted. “What I can assure you is that the Pro League would continue because the owners of the clubs, who are the directors of the Pro League, have committed themselves to football and communities.”
The letter ended, “I also take the opportunity to extend my best wishes to you and the organisation for its future success and do ensure you my full support.”
Phillip: Unsuccessful SPORTT meeting was final straw; ex-Pro League chairman wants more family time.
By Roneil Walcott (Wired868).
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
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.
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.
“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.”